SEATTLE – This time, Kirsten Brockman’s chronically injured left foot betrayed her for good.
An orthopedic surgeon has advised Brockman, a power forward for the University of Washington women’s basketball team, to quit basketball.
Brockman had battled stress fractures in both feet for 1 1/2 years. She’d had surgery on her left foot twice in the last 14 months, in August 2002 and last June. The bone scan led to a medical disqualification and the end of her time on the court.
“It’s been awful being injured for so long,” Brockman said. “If I had it my way, I’d be able to play. I’ll try to make an impact on the team in another way. I kind of expected the news, but there is no easy way to prepare for someone telling you you’re never going to play again.”
Brockman had hoped that this, her redshirt sophomore year with the Huskies, would be the first injury-free season since her junior year at Snohomish High School.
Her hopes were high after several painless months following surgeries to both her feet last season. She rehabbed successfully, she thought, and even played pick-up basketball with her teammates.
Instead, her career ended a week before the Huskies reported for preseason practice two weeks ago, when she felt a familiar pain in her left foot.
Brockman has just 10 games to her Husky bio, when she played between injuries in her freshman year.
Brockman was an inspiration to her teammates and coaches for her tireless, dogged work in rehabilitation.
“This is awfully hard news to hear because Kirsten loves to play basketball and she really wanted to get out there to help her teammates,” UW head coach June Daugherty said. “To have this taken away from her is tough. Kirsten has done everything humanly possible to play, but it’s the foot that is just not cooperating.”
Brockman, a rugged, 6-foot center at Snohomish, was a promising prospect out of high school, despite a torn ACL that robbed her of her senior season. A starter since she was a freshman, Brockman led the Panthers to a third-place finish in the Class 4A girls state basketball tournament as a junior, averaging 16 points and eight rebounds a game.
That year, Brockman was named first-team all-state, all-area and all-Western Conference.
Brockman’s retirement leaves the Huskies with a young, inexperienced front line behind senior Andrea Lalum. Jill Bell is a 6-0 redshirt freshman from Bellevue; Maggie O’Hara is a 6-3 true freshman from Boise Idaho; and Breanne Watson is a 6-1 true freshman from Richmond, B.C.
Brockman is the third Husky to give up basketball for health reasons in the last 10 months. Kayla Burt, a guard from Arlington, was forced out because of a heart condition. Center Sarah Keeler retired after six knee surgeries in four years.