Published: January 10, 2013
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Fate has a way of changing perceptions and expectations.
Lackawanna Trail athlete Gabby Sunseri was looking forward to her senior season in her favorite sport, basketball, eager to help guide the team as its point guard.
But a sad, familiar sound during a scrimmage altered the way Sunseri's season would work out.
One bad moment meant disappointment and frustration, and the senior found herself trying to recover from an injury that threatened to cast a shadow over her final season of high school basketball.
But she found the strength to remain positive and remained a contributing factor to the team, even though she would do so in a much different manner than she anticipated. Somehow, Sunseri even saw her desire to play grow at a time she couldn't get on the court.
"It's surprising. It brought back my love for the game," Sunseri said. "It was tough sitting on the bench, not able to play."
At a scrimmage before the exhibition play began, Sunseri felt the pain in her left knee and knew that she had damaged her PCL, a ligament in the back of her knee, a tear like she had suffered two years ago. Unfairly, she had to get back to recovery mode, having traveled the road to recovery before.
"It was tough because it was her senior year," said first-year Lady Lions head coach Bob Fitzsimmons. "She worked so hard, going to camps every summer, staying after practice to shoot; to pick up an injury like that sets everything back."
While she was out, Fitzsimmons kept her mind sharp with some other tasks.
"I know she wasn't happy," Fitzsimmons said. "She's a great kid, a good teammate, and she's done everything I asked her to do. I know she was frustrated doing stats, so when I'd pull a guard from the game, I'd tell her to go talk to Gabby."
She discovered she could still be effective as a leader for the team, and the perspective of being on the bench gave her plenty of insights into her favorite game.
"There's more to the game than just scoring points," Sunseri said. "It gave me the opportunity to help my teammates, and has given me a better knowledge of the game. Like, the point guard determines the speed of the team. You can't get out of control."
While the injury has lessened her playing time, her role for the Lady Lions has not changed greatly.
"She's been a leader. I look to her to help our young guards grow and get better as the year goes on," Fitzsimmons said.
Sunseri has gotten the okay to play again and has discovered that things have changed as she rebuilds her confidence. What she doesn't have to worry about is her coach, who has seen what she can do over the years. Fitzsimmons understands what she is going through and is among her biggest supporters.
"JV-wise over the last couple of years, I have a ton of confidence in her," Fitzsimmons said. "She understands the game; she's a great student in everything she does."
Although her season has been hampered by the injury, Sunseri has a changed perspective for her play.
"I came in expecting to have a great season," Sunseri said. "I want to enjoy myself a little more. Usually, I'm so focused on the negative; I'm trying harder to focus on the positive.
"I've been through a lot of adversity, but I don't want to over-think things," she continued. "I want to get back to having fun and loving the game."
As she goes through life, some of the things she has learned from her athletic career will carry on as life lessons for Sunseri, who has hopes of becoming an orthodontist.
"It's easy to get down, but you have to finish what you started," Sunseri said. "Don't forget the people around you; you can't go it alone, you need family and friends."
She knows her path has been littered with obstacles, but has the inner resolve to beat whatever comes along life's winding road.