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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Making a comeback


Shavar Newkirk has successful debut after ACL tear

Almost a year after senior Shavar Newkirk ended his season early, due to injury, he was cleared to resume his basketball career at St. Joe’s as one of five starters in the team’s season opener against Toledo University on Nov. 11.

Newkirk’s season ended last December after he tore his ACL on a fast break during a game against George Washington University.

Not only a starter, Newkirk scored 21 points in 20 minutes of play time, continuing last season’s average of 20.3 points per game before he was injured.

“It felt great to be back,” said Newkirk, who plays point guard. “I actually shed a tear before I stepped on the court. Being away from something you love for a whole year drove me crazy. When I played, it felt amazing.”

During last year’s game against George Washington, Newkirk had been on a roll with his sixth straight point. At first, he didn’t realize he had torn his ACL. Instead, he thought he had just “tweaked” his knee and that with treatment, he would be able to return to the game.

When he was told otherwise, he started to cry.

“I work hard for a lot of things, and in my eyes this was going to be my breakout season,”  Newkirk said. “So, when that happened, everything just stopped abruptly. It was emotional. My father was there.  I started tearing.  He started tearing. We shared a moment.”

Newkirk underwent surgery last January. He said he tried to stay focused mentally during his recovery process.

“I stayed optimistic first off because people told me that when your mental is strong, your recovery will go well,” Newkirk said. “So I did a lot of watching inspirational videos, doing things to get my mind off of it.”

Although Newkirk was not playing, he continued to support his teammates, watching all of the games, both home and away.

In addition, Newkirk surrounded himself with his friends to cope with the long recovery process.

“They don’t talk about basketball or my injury,” Newkirk said. “They just genuinely want to be with me.”

Every athlete is different when it comes to when they can return to their sport after an ACL tear, according to Bill Lukasiewicz, head athletic trainer.

“After the reconstruction, typical recovery time is anywhere from six to 12 months to return to sports,” Lukasiewicz said. “We typically would like them to be at 90 percent before they are cleared to play.”

Before Newkirk could play again, he had to go through ACL rehab with Brian Bingaman, the strength coach for the men’s basketball team.

“I got him after about six to eight weeks,” Bingaman said. “We did a lot of strength training. We did at least five days a week. Once he got his full range of motion, then we started incorporating different things trying to work on his hamstring flexibility, work on his functional range of motion and trying to re-teach him how to run and jump.”

Newkirk was cleared to join the team for his first practice on Oct. 31.

“My coordination was a little off,” Newkirk said afterward, “but I’m gonna get to it.”

In fact, Newkirk said he believes his skills are all still there.

“I think I actually got quicker,” he said. “Right now, it’s all about building everything back up, making sure I’m stronger than what I was before.”

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