The Port St. Joe Lady Tiger Sharks hit the floor Tuesday for the Class 1A Regional Semi-Finals. For lone senior Alyssa Parker, her final season at St. Joe is bitter sweet, and one she almost wasn't healthy enough to play in, as last fall, Alyssa Parker's junior season was cut short- as she went down with a season ending knee injury- tearing her ACL, MCL, and meniscus.
"It was really hard seeing my teammates struggle," she says. "Overcoming that took me about eight months to get myself together, even to get cleared. I hated going to therapy. It was bad, but I was happy they cleared me to go back and play with my teammates, my one last year since I am a Senior."
Her teammates are glad to have her back- as she leads the team in rebounds with 10, pitching in seven points and six assists per game.
"She's worked hard, she really has," says assistant Coach Tracy Browning. "She's been through her therapy. She has a weightlifting class everyday. All summer long she worked at it, and her goal was to get back on the court and play. We're very fortunate- and she's a lot of the reason why. She is the floor general on the floor, and she leads by her example."
And as the lone senior on a St. Joe squad that starts two seventh graders- Alyssa's stepped in naturally to that leadership role not only on the court, but in the classroom, as she holds a 3.4 unweighted GPA.
"When you go on road trips, she's got her books, and she's trying to get her grades first," says Coach Browning. "She is a very unique young lady."
"They look up to me," Alyssa says of her younger teammates. "They say they want to be focused like me, and go hard and stay strong."
It's staying strong that's gotten Alyssa where she is today- on track to play basketball at the L.B. Wallace next season.
"I didn't think I was ever going to get offered anything because of my knee, but it's really exciting to go to the next level."
Exciting, especially in a year's time, Alyssa's gone from the sidelines to leading the Lady Sharks to the Regional Semi-Finals. Alyssa's talents aren't just limited to the gym- as she's also State Champion in track.