This past year has been a test of fortitude for Lauren Ware.
The former Bismarck Century multiple-sport star injured her knee near the end of last July at a summer volleyball tournament in Sioux Falls, S.D.
That torn ACL wiped out her highly anticipated senior volleyball and girls basketball seasons at Century, an experience that has helped Ware deal with the current uncertainty in her athletic career due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“My injury really helped me with patience because before that I definitely wouldn’t have handled this situation very well,” Ware said. “After my injury, it has taught me a lot of patience.”
The 6-foot-5 Ware committed to play both volleyball and women’s basketball at the University of Arizona last September. Now, she’s playing the waiting to game to see when she can head to Tucson to start her college career. Ware planned to be at Arizona early this month to start voluntary workouts, but COVID-19 changed that timeline.
“Since then we’ve been kind of waiting around since all the cases started spiking, especially in Arizona,” Ware said. “There is just a lot of uncertainty. … They’re not going to let us come back to campus until the case numbers go down. Hopefully, we’ll get down there late July, early August. Still, we really don’t know.”
Arizona has already had to alter its volleyball schedule after the Pac-12 Conference recently announced it was going to play conference-only games for fall sports.
“The most challenging thing is the uncertainty for sure. Especially with it being my first year, I’m really anxious to get on campus and play already,” Ware said. “You just have to understand the circumstances and whatever it is to keep us safe and healthy, that’s what we have to do.
I’m just glad we haven’t canceled the fall season like other schools have and we’re still trying to push towards having a season, which is really nice. If canceling the nonconference allows us to play, I’m all for it.”
Ware said her injured knee, which required surgery, is “definitely feeling 100%” and her rehabilitation has gone well. She’s been doing her rehab and training at Sanford Power in Bismarck, while she waits to head to Tucson.
“The recovery has gone really well. Now we’re focusing more on full body workouts, rather than just focusing on my knee, which we were doing for quite awhile,” Ware said. “I’d say for about a month or two, it’s been pretty close to being a 100%, it was feeling really good toward the end of the school year around May and June. It’s just been getting better ever since.”
Ware said she does around three or four virtual meetings a week between the volleyball and women’s basketball teams at Arizona. She’s also received workouts through an app from the school. Ware said she works out five or six times a week, including weight training and individual skills work for both basketball and volleyball.
“I’ve been trying to stay prepared and be ready whenever I need to go,” Ware said. “It’s better than waiting around and not being ready when the time comes. I’ve been training every day.”
Ware averaged 18.1 points, 11.5 rebounds and 4 blocks per game during her junior season at Century, helping lead the Patriots to a North Dakota Class A state championship. She won three North Dakota Gatorade Player of the year honors during her high school career, two in girls basketball and one for volleyball. She would have been the favorite to win both again during her senior season had she not been injured.
Ware said she hasn’t played a competitive game in a team setting since she injured her left knee last summer during the volleyball tournament.
“It’s crazy to think that it’s been that long because I’ve never had that long of a break between games,” Ware said. “It feels really crazy.”