Kyla Wigfall celebrated the 2011-12 Class 4A championship with her Dutch Fork girls basketball team, but for the then-junior point guard, something was missing.
Wigfall had spent most of that season on the bench, recovering from surgery to repair a torn ACL. So when she and her teammates hoisted that championship trophy, it was a bittersweet moment that would drive a ferocious offseason recovery effort.
I knew I would have to work hard and I want to work so I actually get to work for the ring, instead of being given it, Wigfall said.
Now, Wigfall is back on the court with the Silver Foxes and on the way to reaching her goal. Dutch Fork (14-0) is ranked No. 12 in the nation by USA Today.
I just worked really hard because I knew that they were all continuing to develop. So not only did I have to rehab, to get back to where I was, and then to get to where I would have been, Wigfall said.
After pushing herself harder than she ever had, Wigfall was worried she would be shaky or hesitant when she first stepped back on the court.
I feel really good on my knee and it all came back naturally, she said.
Now averaging 3 points, 2 assists and 2 steals per game, Wigfall knows her work is not done.
I feel like I need to step up more to get beyond where I was, she said.
In her first two seasons, Wigfall, along with Donnesha Shuler and Alaina Coates, had helped the Silver Foxes to consecutive state semifinals.
She was our main motivation last year, Coates said of her teammate. Its really good to have her back; Ive been with her since since eighth grade, and we have that twin telepathy thing.
Coach Faye Norris praised Wigfalls efforts over the past year.
I dont know whether I helped her through it, but Kyla has a mild and giving spirit; shes a kid that wants to work to get better. Thats the attitude she brought before the injury, Norris said.
After the surgery, she said, Wigfall was at every practice with a smile on her face. She was at every game encouraging her teammates.
Wigfall said she learned a lot during her time on the sidelines.
It was kind of disappointing, and it hurt, Wigfall said. But seeing my teammates step up, I felt like they knew what to do. I had no doubts that they would be successful without me on the court.
Norris was just as certain that honors student Wigfall would return.
Ive had several players to have torn ACLs, and only two of them have come back through it, and Kyla is one of them, she said. Thats just perseverance.
Wigfall has been grateful for the chance to return for one more season.
I dont wish it would have happened at all, but Im glad it happened last year, so that my senior year is open for me to play, she said.