UW-Whitewater's Theune happy she decided to stay
WHITEWATER Megan Theune's senior season was derailed before it even began.
Now she could not be happier about it.
The Whitewater native missed out on playing with her true senior class when she tore her ACL prior to the 2011-12 women's basketball season. Now she's an integral player for the Warhawks, starting 18 of 31 games for a team that has advanced to the NCAA Division III Final Four this weekend in Holland, Mich.
"She could've graduated last year and really kind of had to stay in school for no other reason than basketball," UW-W coach Keri Carollo said. "She had a tough choice. I'm sure she's pretty happy about her choice right now."
There were no smiles in the fall of 2011.
Official practice had not yet started, but the Warhawks were playing a pick-up game and Theune was guarding teammate Mary Merg when their knees collided.
"Initially it didn't hurt; I walked off the court," Theune said. "Then I found out I tore my ACL, which was obviously a bummer because it was the seniors' last year and I had been playing with them for what would've been four years."
Theune played in 77 games over her first three years, mostly in a reserve role. She averaged 7.1 points per game as a junior.
The rehabilitation was tough, but Theune endured.
"Now I wouldn't change it for the world. I'm just so thankful. My injury, now, is a positive thing for me."
By the beginning of this season, Theune was 100 percent healthy. She has played in every game and is averaging 5.8 points and 22 minutes per game.
"It was impressive," Carollo said. "Physically, she was definitely ready to go at the start of the season, but mentally she struggled a little bit just getting back into the swing of things. I think about midseason you could tell she had that fire in her eyes again."
Theune is expected to be in the starting lineup when the Warhawks take on Amherst in Friday's national semifinal at 4:30 p.m. at Hope College.
While Theune hadn't always set her sights on attending college in her hometown, this is a dream come true for the lifelong UW-W fan.
"We'd always come to the Warhawks games, men's and women's," she said of her family. "You always think about where you want to eventually end up, and I never really initially thought here, just because it was my hometown. But I looked at the basketball program and the business school and it was a no-brainer.
"It's surreal. Honestly, after the game Saturday, people kept saying, ‘Final Four.' I turned to Mary and I was like, ‘We're going to the Final Four! What?!'"
Considering the conversations the two were forced to have after knocking knees a year and a half earlier, Theune's delayed senior season worked out just fine.
HOMETOWN HERO: Whitewater native Megan Theune has started 18 games for the UW-Whitewater women's basketball team this year, and will likely start again Friday when the Warhawks play in the NCAA Division III national semifinals.
BOUNCE BACK: Theune missed all of last season after suffering a knee injury, but is averaging nearly six points per game in her senior year.
ANOTHER LOCAL: UW-W's roster boasts another Whitewater native, freshman Sabrina Hookstead.
GAME DETAILS: The Warhawks (26-5) face Amherst (30-1) at 4:30 p.m. on Friday at Hope College in Holland, Mich. The winner faces the winner of DePauw-Williams College in the national championship at 6 p.m. Saturday.