Rachel Martindale's return from injury has bolstered the Girls' Basketball Team


photo by Carli Leonard

Carli Leonard, Reporter

Girls’ Basketball Captain Rachel Martindale has battled back from a torn ACL that ended her season prematurely last year. Still, she has shown that not even that can hold her back from leading her teammates to another successful season and leading herself to a Division One basketball commitment.

Due to your injury, has coming into the new season been harder than past years? 

Yes, it has definitely been more of a challenge. Not only did I struggle physically, having been out for eight months, but it was also tough mentally — getting back in the gym and having to play with contact again. 

Did you worry that you might be coming back too soon?

No, I completed my physical therapy successfully, and my doctor said everything looked really strong and that I was ready to play.

What about your family, coach, and teammates?

My family, coach, and teammates all had my back and supported all of my decisions. I feel like some of them had some doubt about coming back two months early, but they had to believe that everything would be okay. My family and teammates still react fearfully every time I take a big hit, but I always reassure them with a big smile whenever I get up. 

Do you question why you were still in the WPIAL championship game, which is the one you got injured in, that late when you were up by over 20?

No, I do not question it one bit. I started the fourth quarter of every game, no matter the score. It was the championship game, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.  

The Girls’ Basketball team is producing yet another undefeated season, with a current record of 12-0. What do you believe makes this team so successful?

I believe the team is so successful because of our chemistry on and off the floor. Also, we all have one goal in mind, and we would all do whatever it takes to achieve that goal.

How far do you think the team is capable of going this season?

I believe we have an opportunity to get back to the state championship. It will not be easy, but I definitely think it is possible.

What will you miss the most about this team?

I have been playing with the seniors since 3rd grade. These girls are more than teammates and friends; they are my family. I don’t know what it is going to be like without them by my side every step of the way.

Do you look back on the decision to de-commit to Pitt for softball with any regrets?

No, I do not. I love basketball and wanted that to be my future. Softball is great, but basketball is just a much faster game, and there is constant movement.

You are committed to Akron for basketball. Why did you choose Akron over the other schools who were giving you offers?

Akron has an excellent business program, and that is what I am looking to pursue as my major. I had an instant connection with their coaching staff from the very start. After my injury, they stuck by side, and didn’t have any doubts that I would be the same player when I came back.

Is your goal to eventually play in the WNBA?

My goal right now is to be the best player that I can be for my senior year and to have that continue at Akron, where I will play the next four years.

When you were younger, you played baseball with the boys instead of playing softball with girls. Do you ever miss that?

It was definitely a unique experience playing with guys, but I wouldn’t switch it for my softball teammates. I loved playing baseball, and I am still good friends with a lot of the boys I played with and against. I had the opportunity to pitch, and I think that I miss that the most. I wouldn’t change anything that happened in the past, but I am glad I made the switch over to softball.

You were chosen to be captain of the team your sophomore year. How did it feel being a leader as an underclassman?

It’s definitely a challenge to know people are always looking to you, especially when some are 2-3 years older than you. I learned a lot about trust, working together, and being ready to lead.

Looking back on your past few years of being on the NA Girls’ Basketball team, what is your favorite memory?

My favorite memory is winning the WPIAL championship game during my sophomore year. That was the first WPIAL championship for the girls in history for North Allegheny. That is an incredible thing to be a part of, and it will never be forgotten.