The game of basketball consists of courage, devotion, passion, and strength. If you don’t acquire these four components; then what are you doing?
Get off the court.
Blood, sweat, and tears are also a part of the game; but so are injuries.
An injury like a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), MCL (medial collateral ligament), and meniscus is a nightmare for all athletes.
Nathan Banasik of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin originally tore the two ligaments and meniscus in his right knee during his sophomore year playing varsity football. He started at safety and wide receiver.
Unable to finish the remainder of his sophomore year and junior year of football due to rehabilitating his knee, Banasik was able to make a comeback in basketball for his junior year playing for his father, Andy Banasik. Not only is his father the head coach for the boy’s basketball team, but he’s also Prairie du Chien High School’s Principal and Athletic Director.
“My relationship with my dad is tremendous,” Nathan said. “He has pushed me and helped me become the player I am today. Whether it was getting up at 5 a.m. during the summer to work me out, or staying late after practice to help me work on my shot, he has always supported me and I am thankful for that.”
The team had an overall winning record of 24-3, making it to the WIAA Division 3 State Tournament. They lost against Waupun, who eventually claimed the WIAA Division 3 State Title. Banasik averaged 11 points his junior year and received 1st team all-conference.
Banasik went on to compete in track and field as a distance runner where he later found out that the meniscus he originally tore never fully healed. Banasik had surgery once more to remove part of his meniscus, causing him to miss summer league basketball.
“I decided to not go out for football my senior year in order to get fully healthy and focus on basketball,” he said. “However, during a fall basketball workout, I went for a layup and consequently tore my ACL and part of my meniscus again in the same right knee.”
Dr. Baer, Banasik’s doctor, said no patient of his finished a full basketball season playing without an ACL. He suggested that it would be best to get surgery done for Nathan’s long term health and get ready for college basketball.
“I decided against this, obviously to play through it, subsequently becoming his first patient to play a full season with a torn ACL,” he said. “I was able to play through this injury because of my passion for basketball and for my dad.”
They say if you’re going through hell, keep going. Right?
“The only time I was in major pain was when my knee gave out during games or practices,” he said. “It caused me to take a break for about 5 minutes to let the pain calm down before I got back to playing.”
Before Banasik were his two older sisters: Morgan and McKenzie Banasik. Both played for the high school and moved on to play college basketball.
“My sisters also helped me out a lot,” said Banasik.
Back in 2011, Prairie du Chien girl’s basketball team had an explosive 23-2 run in the third quarter against Edgerton, securing a 47-34 WIAA Division 3 sectional final victory which earned the team its first trip to state since the program won the 1991 Division 2 state title.
“With both of my sisters going to state in their high school careers, and later going on to play college, I strive to be like them,” said Banasik. “I wanted to follow in their footsteps by also getting to the state tournament and playing in college.”
Banasik and his teammates dream of returning to the state tournament was cut short after their 38-52 loss against Platteville during the regional finals game. The team ended their season with a 21-3 record, and Banasik averaged 8.9 points per game for his final season.
“It was a tough loss to Platteville,” he said. “We beat them twice in the regular season both by double digits. It just wasn’t our night and we couldn’t get our shots to fall. I have to give credit to Platteville. They played very good defense against us.”
Now that Banasik’s senior year has come to an end, he will undergo surgery March 20, 2017. He plans to attend UW-Eau Claire next year to play basketball and study Athletic Training. He hopes to become an athletic trainer or coach in the future.
The future athletic trainer and coach’s best piece of advice to anyone struggling with a knee injury like his is “to work your hardest in rehab, and enjoy every moment because it could happen again at anytime.”