Nothing was going to stop him. Not two torn ligaments in his ankle. Not the naysaying doctors. Nor common sense.
Drew Mortensen wanted to play his senior season of basketball and volleyball.
And that was all there was to it.
Mortensen suffered an ankle injury last summer and was supposed to be out six months, missing most of the basketball season, and maybe even his entire senior year.
“I actually ended up being back within three months,” said Mortensen, now playing with the Sandra Day O’Connor boys volleyball team. “I started to run and jog off the boot after three months. So I was able to go to basketball camp and tryouts, which actually helped me a lot. I was actually shocked that I was out of the boot and doing the things that I was doing.”
Mortensen was named one of the captains of the basketball team and is now a key hitter on the volleyball team. He’s not even 100 percent healthy yet.
“I’m around 90 percent,” he said. “It’s been good for volleyball because my vertical is coming back again.”
He has only now felt comfortable sprinting and jumping as high as he can; he pushed through any pain during basketball season.
“I did feel some pain but I always played through pain and injuries,” Mortensen said. “I did it for my team. I wanted to be there for them. I’ve been on varsity for the basketball team for a couple of years so I didn’t want to let them down my senior year.”
That is why he forced himself to decrease his recovery time. Well, also to prove people wrong.
“The only other thing that pushed me was that everyone was saying you need to take it easy,” he said. “They kept saying you are not going to be back before this and do that. I told them, I am going to do this. It was motivation to prove them wrong that I can do this.
“We saw two doctors. Both of them said I would be out for at least four to six months. That would be the best case, optimal scenario. And they were leaning toward six months and that I would probably miss basketball season. At worst, they said I would miss a year. I kind of just laughed at that. I went to physical therapy and did things on my own just to get my leg back to normal.”
Mortensen is now helping O’Connor try to reach the boys volleyball state tournament. Entering this week, the team was No. 13 in the power rankings with an 8-2 record. The top 24 teams make the postseason.
“Our goal is just to make it to state,” Mortensen said. “It’s been five years since our program actually made it to state. And that’s when we were a 4A program and not a (top-division) program. I feel that if we get there, we can go pretty deep and make a run.”