When injuries hit the University of Iowa women’s basketball team this season, Hawkeyes players adopted the word “grit” to work through it.
No one on the 15-2 Hawkeyes understands grit more than Brodhead High graduate and Iowa senior Carly Mohns.
“Grit” could be Mohns’ nickname, except she already has one—“Beef.”
We’ll get to “Beef” later.
“Grit” is what Mohns has displayed in four seasons at Iowa.
The 6-foot-1 senior has had five procedures done on her left knee—including four since she stepped on the Iowa City campus. The surgeries have kept the 2014 Brodhead graduate from having a full season with the Hawkeyes, although she has received more playing time of late due to injuries to teammates.
Her 17 games played thus far is more than any of her first three seasons. Mohns has played in 48 games total. She has easily spent hundreds of hours more strengthening her left knee after surgeries than the 411 career minutes she has spent on the floor.
“It’s hard mentally,” Mohns said of the grueling grind of having to rehab so many times. “But it’s something that I didn’t want to give up on. I just wanted to keep on pushing and prove everyone wrong.”
No one appreciates Mohns’ dedication to the team and sport more than 16-year Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder.
“She has been through so many surgeries,” Bluder said after Mohns scored nine points and grabbed six rebounds in an 82-72 victory over Michigan on New Years Eve. “She has been through so much here as a Hawkeye. For her senior year here, to go out and have that kind of game, I love that so much for ‘Beef.’”
Three days before the Michigan game, Mohns scored three points and had five rebounds in a 56-46 victory over Wisconsin—a school that didn’t recruit her out of Brodhead.
“At the time, it might have been a little bit,” Mohns said when asked if she was disappointed the Badgers did not offer her a scholarship.
So her game against the Badgers had to be satisfying—especially since she had to play the shooting forward’s role. Mohns had been playing underneath the basket until her teammates’ injuries.
Bluder appreciated Mohns accepting her new position.
“For the first time out, putting a kid in that position, luckily she is experienced and has been around the block, so that helps,” Bluder said after the win at the Kohl Center. “Her athleticism and size is good out there.”
Mohns welcomed the opportunity to play.
“It’s a confidence booster to be able to come in and get some minutes,” she said. “We use the word ‘grit’ to describe ourselves because we worked through everything with the injuries and just sticking together as a team and having each others’ backs.”
The knee injuries began in Mohns’ sophomore season at Brodhead. During a practice in late January, she tore the ACL in her left knee.
If any player had a reason to hate practices more than former Philadelphia 76ers great Allen Iverson, it would be Mohns. All of her knee injuries have happened during practices.
Despite the torn ACL, Mohns ended up helping the Cardinals win four Rock Valley Conference championships, as well as making all-Rock Valley three times in volleyball. Brodhead went to the state tournament in girls basketball in 2014.
Mohns played in 14 games her freshman season at Iowa. That Hawkeyes squad finished 26-8, including 14-4 in the Big Ten, and advanced to the Sweet 16.
The injuries started mounting her sophomore season. Mohns tore a meniscus in her left knee in mid-December, which ended her season after nine games. She had been averaging 15 minutes of playing time.
Mohns underwent microfracture surgery on the knee, and then had arthroscopic surgery to clean it out last season. She also had a platelet rich plasma injection, which involves withdrawing blood, spinning it in a centrifuge for 15 minutes to separate platelets, and then injecting that back into her knee.
She also had another minor surgery to clean out hard tissue in the troublesome joint.
Mohns enters the final two months of the season—and likely her collegiate career—with 86 points and 93 rebounds.
And about that nickname. Her father, Jim, dubbed her “Beef” because she loved to eat beef as a youngster. She mentioned that to teammates four years ago, and it’s been her moniker since.
Mohns is set to graduate this spring with a major in sport and recreation management.
Graduating in just four years with her basketball responsibilities and rehabilitation was a grind.
“It was definitely difficult to stay on track,” Mohns said. “But being an athlete, you have a lot of resources—tutors, learning assistants and academic advisors. So that helped a lot for staying on top of things.”
And because of a medical waiver granted by the NCAA, she could enroll in a graduate program and return to the team next season.
Understandably, Mohns said that is not likely.
“As of right now, I don’t see myself doing that because of my knee and everything,” Mohns said.
She certainly has been through enough.