Maci Mills’ high school athletic career could’ve been over after she tore the ACL in her right knee midway through last basketball season.
But that was simply not an option for her, now a senior at Gordon Central.
After eight months of rehab, she was ready to go in August for softball and has been going ever since as she is now one of the main contributors in her final season on the Lady Warriors basketball team, which is closing in on the stretch run.
Mills is the kind of player her coaches, Brian Little (softball) and Lee Economos (basketball), or really any coaches like to lead, being a team-first, determined, calm presence in the athletic arena.
She said she attributes a lot of what she’s become as an athlete and a person to her dad and sister, who have been role models to her ever since she took up sports.
Recently, the Calhoun Times caught up with Mills to talk about her senior basketball and softball seasons, her road back from her knee injury, playing alongside her sister at Gordon Central a couple years ago, her memories as a Warrior and a few other subjects.
Here’s what she had to say:
CT: Talk about basketball season so far. It’s kind of been an up and down year for the team. How do you think it’s gone so far and what are your expectations for the end of the season?
Mills: We’ve lost a lot of really close games this year, but we’re working really hard. I know we’re going to pull it out at the end of the season because we always do. We’ve been practicing really hard lately so hopefully we’ll be ready for the region tournament.
CT: Take us back to softball season this past fall. The team had a rough stretch but improved toward the end of the year. What were your overall thoughts on the season?
Mills: We did lose a lot of games, but I think we grew as a team. We had a lot of adversity, but I think that will help me when adversity comes off the field. We didn’t win a lot this season, but we worked hard. I love my teammates, and that’s the best thing about it.
CT: Take us through what it was like having the knee injury last year and how tough it was to come back from it?
Mills: Last December, I tore my ACL, and it was really hard on me. I had to go through eight months of rehab. It was every day all summer long. I knew I was the only pitcher for the softball team so I knew I had to be back for my team. I worked really hard to get back.
CT: You got a chance to play with your sister Monica a couple of years at Gordon Central in softball and basketball. What was that like and how much did that help you or make you better?
Mills: I look up to her because she’s a really good role model for me. I still look back and it’s one of my favorite memories when I was able to play with my sister. It was pretty competitive too. Coach (Economos) didn’t like to put us on different teams when we scrimmaged in practice because we would foul each other, but she always pushed me to be better.
CT: What is your favorite memory as an athlete at Gordon Central?
Mills: Probably playing with my sister, and just being around my teammates. I hang out with my teammates all the time.
CT: Which one of your coaches has had the biggest influence on you?
Mills: I would say my dad. He’s always been the one there. He’s always been there to take to practice. He was always wanting to get out in the yard and help me. He’s taken me to Oklahoma and everywhere just to play. He really cares, and I think he’s one of the main reasons I got my scholarship (to Chattannoooga State.)
CT: Who is an athlete you admire or try to model yourself after?
Mills: My sister because she’s had to face a lot of adversity too, and she’s become a better person because of it. She’s my biggest role model.
CT: What’s it like to play in rivalry games like the ones against Calhoun or Sonoraville?
Mills: There are so many fans. I love those games. My favorite one was when we played Calhoun in softball last year, and we beat them for the first time. I’ll never forget it.
CT: You mentioned your softball scholarship to Chattanooga State earlier. How excited are you about playing college softball?
Mills: I never thought I would have that opportunity especially after I tore my ACL. I worked so hard to get back and get this scholarship so I’m really excited to go play there.
Food: Chicken nuggets
Fast Food: Chick-Fil-A
Movie: The Wizard of Oz
TV Show: Friday Night Lights
Male Celebrity: John Mayer