It's easy to understand why Westminster senior guard Mackenzie Murray is savoring her time on the basketball court more than many others this season.
In each of the past two seasons, Murray suffered torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments, requiring two surgeries (one to each knee) 13 months apart.
Murray, also a standout forward on the Owls soccer team, spent 4 to 5 months in physical therapy after each procedure to be able to continue her athletic career.
After finishing as one of Westminster's leading scorers on the soccer field this past fall, her third year on varsity, Murray is now doing whatever she can to help the basketball team to a winning season.
A team captain (she also was a captain in soccer), Murray averages 5.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.8 steals and 3.6 assists per game for the Owls (5-4) this season. Just as important, the hard work and perseverance she showed to overcome her injuries have inspired her teammates.
Murray, who is considering a number of Division III schools and plans to play soccer in college, maintains a 4.25 grade point average and hopes to major in exercise science.
At Westminster, she is also involved in a number of extracurricular activities. A member of the National Honor Society, Murray is on the senior class executive board. She is also the business manager for the yearbook, as well as a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the school's Girls Athletic Board.
What did you learn about yourself while overcoming the injuries?
I definitely became stronger emotionally, physically and mentally, because I've been in situations where I thought I may have hurt it again, but I was strong enough to think all my hard work has paid off and nothing was wrong. It definitely made me a stronger person in so many aspects, and I have learned to be able to endure much more.
What's your role on the basketball team?
I'm just an all-around player that tries to do a little of everything. I have a good friend [leading scorer Danielle Fieni] on the team that I've played basketball with for so many years, and it's just been great to get back on the court with her because the past few seasons I haven't been able to because of the injuries. So I look to get her the ball and also get the steals, assists and rebounds, and I get some points here and there, too.
What does it feel like to be a senior in high school?
Now that I've been on holiday break, it has kind of hit me that I just have 5 or 6 months left of high school. It's kind of an eye-opener knowing that next year is a new chapter in my life. I just want to make the best of these times because I won't have them again. It's a lot of fun being the top dog, especially being able to play both sports and just being myself — getting back to playing sports and doing what I love.
What makes you a strong leader?
It's not just about saying things and telling teammates what to do. It's about going out there and showing it. I think I play that role as a captain and have been told that by one of my coaches. He says it's not as much what you say, it's about what you do and show your teammates. So being able to show teammates what to do, make good decisions on and off the court, and just picking up teammates if they get down is what I try to do.
What's the best advice you have received?
Probably to keep an open mind about everything. You have to go with what your heart tells you and not what other people say, like peer pressure or anything else. I received a gift this past week that opened my mind about that kind of thing, and it's just keeping an open heart. You feel free to listen to what other people have to say, take advice and go from there.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun