Last season certainly didn’t go according to plan for Sara Blicavs. Suffering a severe ACL injury in round four of the WNBL season, the injury not only ended her season but also saw her miss the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
While most professional athletes see major injuries as career hurdles, the bright and bubbly 25-year-old has a very different outlook.
“Honestly, I have seen the silver lining to my injury and I’ve taken it in the best possible way,” Said Blicavs
“Although it sucked, and I was in a lot of pain after, and it’s been a mental challenge, this is the best thing that has ever happened to me.”
Perhaps one of the more unusual perspectives, that status is not lost on Blicavs who laughed and turned her powers of persuasion up a notch.
“I’m so grateful I got to do my ACL. How crazy is that? Look I’d probably be much happier if it was just the ACL, but it really is the best thing that has happened to me.”
Talking to Sara, it’s hard not to believe her. Hearing about her injury, Blicavs’ went through a rollercoaster from the moment her knee buckled on court to when she was having surgery only a matter of days later.
“When it happened, I remember it so clearly. I remember pushing off on that leg and this excruciating pain. And for maybe ten seconds I was hopping around.
“The emotions kicked in. This is horrible. I fractured my patella, tore my meniscus off the bone and tore my ACL. But then the pain went away and while the shock probably set in, I thought I’d over reacted. I was mad at myself, ‘god damn it I cried on court’,” She laughed.
“But Dad on the way home, he drove me home to Sunbury and basically said to me ’just be prepared, you have probably done your ACL’.”
Her father and Jayco Dandenong Rangers team physio had been right, and Sara was in surgery only days later.
But now seven months later, Blicavs feels better and stronger than ever. Now a lover of the gym and back on court training, she has had more than one source of support through her rehab.
Brother and basketballer Kris has taken on the role of strength and conditioning coach, and while unfortunate, her fellow Australian Institute of Sport rehab buddies in Alex Bunton, Marianna Tolo and even Kelsey Griffin also played a role in her days in the gym.
“I remember calling Alex (Bunton) and saying, ‘as selfish as this is, I’m so happy you did your knee because now we can do this together!’” She laughed
“We (Bunton and Blicavs) were there for three months and were on the same time frame. Returned to running the same time, gym programs boosted at the same time. It was so nice to have someone there, especially when you go through the hard times.
“We can help each other through it. We have bike sessions together, go out for buffalo wings. It’s a really great environment to be in.”
With the next WNBL season in her sights, Sara wasted no time in securing where she would be making her comeback in 2018, re-signing with the Dandenong Rangers for her fourth straight season.
“They are just so good to me.” Blicavs beamed. “I like having that loyalty and they have been nothing but amazing for me.”
“Larissa has had so much faith in me. I’ve been there for three years and she had really helped me with my game and had that trust and faith in me. I think the whole association, I’ve gotten to know them and the sponsors and have a good relationship there.”
But the Rangers will be a little different for Sara in 2018, with sister-in-law Steph Blicavs announcing that she has opted for the Adelaide Lightning next season.
“I knew (Steph) was considering but I didn’t think she would make the move until she called me.
“On court we always played well together.” Sara admitted. “But I’m actually really excited to play against her. When we played against each other in training we’d muck around. We are so super competitive. We would want to beat each other up on purpose to have a laugh about it.”
Making her return to the court in October isn’t the only goal on the hyperactive forward’s mind. Despite the already impressive career bio, Blicavs has some things she still wants to check off her basketball list, a return to the Opals and playing internationally sitting close to the top.
“I’ve kinda planned my life for the next five years if all goes well.” Sara joked. “I plan on heading to Europe at the end of WNBL this year, all going well.
“And of course, one of my massive goals is to make WNBA or at least a training camp.
“I’ve always wanted to just go to a training camp and give that a crack. I’ve never been keen on going overseas to play, but only because I was never confident in my ability. I think I want to go there and know ‘yes, I’m ready’. Hopefully that will happen.”
“In the back of my mind, yes there is also Tokyo in 2020, but I don’t want to just go and sit on the bench. I want to go and play. Or go and be a starter. No matter what I do, that’s my goal.
“But right now, WNBL is the priority, to know that I am 110% ready.”
With contact training now just days away for Sara Blicavs, it sounds like Ranger fans can look forward to having #15 back on court in 2018.