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ASU women's basketball guard regaining comfort on the court after injuries

After missing most of her first two seasons, Jamie Loera is back healthy and contributing for the Sun Devils

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ASU junior guard Jamie Loera (5) pass the ball while warming up for their game against Utah on Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, in Desert Financial Arena.

Jamie Loera’s sophomore season with ASU women’s basketball ended a mere two minutes after it began. Before that, Loera only played 11 games as a freshman before partially tearing her hamstring, causing her to miss the rest of that season.

Loera, now a junior, is healthy and contributing to the team, having already played more games this season than she had in the previous two.

Loera appeared briefly in the team’s Dec. 18, 2019, blowout victory over New Mexico State but was sidelined for the rest of her sophomore season due to complications of a condition called compartment syndrome.

According to The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, the condition occurs when pressure is increased within a "muscle compartment surrounded by a closed fascial space," leading to the decrease of blood delivered to tissues, which "compromises motor and sensory function." 

Loera believed she was going to make a full recovery from the partial hamstring tear she suffered in her freshman year before her leg troubles persisted as a sophomore. She said her legs felt "very worn down" and stressed compared to how they felt before suffering the injury.

She felt as if her body was not cooperating with her and received a surgical procedure called fasciotomy to fix the issue.

"And so that kind of took me away from doing something that I really love to do, physically, and that kind of affected me because I was like, 'OK, what am I doing here?'” Loera said.

Loera decided to take the rest of the season off to focus on rehabbing her legs and improving her mental health. She also wanted to provide support for her teammates, even though she wasn't able to physically help them on the court.

"I wanted to be around my team and I knew that I could contribute, even off the court, so I just tried staying in the moment with my teammates, whether it was that practices or road trips," Loera said. "I did whatever I could do to contribute to my teammates and that really allowed me to stay outside thinking about just myself and keep my mental state stable."

Loera comes from an athletic background as her sisters, Jordan and Jesse, and brother, Josh, all played college basketball. Jordan Loera, who played at Oregon from 2011-16 and is now a graduate manager for Southern Utah's women's basketball team, was particularly helpful to Jamie Loera during this time. 

"(Jordan) definitely was someone that could relate to me when I would talk to her about ... whether I was being 'out' or like my mental state or what can I do to keep me in a good place,” Jamie Loera said.

Having dealt with a number of injuries during her college career, Jordan Loera said she wanted her sister to focus on her mental health and being a good teammate.

"I think the biggest thing I told her was just, you know, try to control what you can control right now," Jordan Loera said. "I mainly just told her you have to keep your head up and you have to just keep being there your team, and I think she worked and handled that adversity pretty well."

Now that Loera has returned to the court, ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne is excited about what the guard has brought to the team after spending such an extended period away from playing.

"(Loera) has been huge for our team, you know, she's a leader, even though she doesn't have the minutes under her belt," Turner Thorne said. "She's from a basketball family ... and she knows the game, so just having her on the floor, generally makes us smarter and makes us better."

Jamie Loera has been frustrated by her performance so far this season, so Turner Thorne has reminded her she's still making up for missed time on the court, saying she is "basically a freshman."

"I'm really pleased with her contributions and everything that she's bringing to our team right now," Turner Thorne said. "And you know I expect her to only get better as the season progresses."

Although it has taken a bit longer than she would have liked, Jamie Loera is just now starting to feel like herself before the injuries.

"I'm still building that confidence getting back to those game reps," Jamie Loera said. "I think I'm just now becoming the player that I'm supposed to be."

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