Lex Vegas Meets Rocky Top

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Kelly Mathis joined the Generals this summer and will be a regular contributor to the Sidelines blog this year

By: Kelly Mathis
Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach

Since, I am new to the athletic family at W&L; I wanted to take a few minutes to tell you a little about myself.  Many reading probably know that I am the new Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach.  I moved to Lexington from Maryville, Tennessee, about 20 minutes south of “Orange and White Country”, Knoxville, Tennessee (GO VOLS).  I graduated in 2009 from Pfeiffer University, a small Division II school near Charlotte, North Carolina.  My time spent after graduation, consisted of moving back to Maryville, working as an intern for the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and March of Dimes, serving as the Business Manager for a small athletic/personal performance training company, and assisting the varsity’s girls’ basketball team at Knoxville Catholic High School.

Athletics has always been a big component in my life since I was very young. Growing up, I have fond memories of my dad and mom, toting my sister and me around to basketball gyms, football fields and baseball fields, due to my father’s position as “the referee” or “the umpire”.   Let’s just say we weren’t the most popular kids or family in the gym or at the field.  However, we always liked to make the most of it by making fun of my dad after games by letting him know what he was called that night- most popular would names would be “dog breath”, “zebra”, etc.  Due to spending most of the time at athletic events, my sister and I became very involved in participating in soccer and basketball.  I started playing basketball and soccer at a young age and have never really stopped.  Yes, I still try to play even today.  However, my athletic career seemed to be more of a challenge to stay on the court/field.

My first challenge came to me when I was in the eighth grade, I tore my left ACL.  At that age, it really didn’t faze me when the orthopedic told my mom and I that I “had torn my ACL”.  However, I found out through the next 4-6 months, why many say ACL tears are the cause of many athletes ending their careers.  The next challenge came 3 days before my 1 year anniversary of tearing my 1st ACL, I tore my right ACL!  The hardest part was just lying on the basketball court knowing I had torn it and thinking how my days are going to be filled once again with rehabilitation. The months of rehab went by fast and I was back to full-participation within 4 months. The rest of my high school career was smooth sailing.   I accomplished a lot and was fortunate to receive an academic and athletic scholarship to play at Pfeiffer University.  However, the injuries didn’t end.  My sophomore year at Pfeiffer, I had a “scar tissue” scope, I re-tore my left ACL my junior year, and my senior year I tried to play through a meniscus tear but had surgery shortly after the season was over.

Even though my athletic career consisted more of trying to stay healthy than actually playing, I learned a lot about myself and that “‘life challenges aren’t suppose to paralyze you, they are supposed to help you discover who you are’ ”.  Sitting on the bench, seemed to be a role I was put in a lot, and when I was healthy, sitting on the bench was rare.  I hold my injuries responsible for pushing me onto the path, I am walking down today. Over the years, I have been upset that injuries didn’t go my way but I looked at the positive outcome; I was fortunate to experience more as a student-athlete, I was able to observe both the coaching side and the playing side of athletics.

I am extremely grateful that I have been given the opportunity to join the family here.  Coach King and I have been busy preparing for a back-to-back ODAC Championship Season, back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances, and another season to mark down in the history books at W&L.  We welcome you to walk down our road to repeat, and join our team’s journey by kicking off the season with our first home game on Saturday, November 20 against Christopher Newport. So, mark your calendars and we will see you there!!

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