While Caroline Ducharme Rehabilitates, Her Family Provides UConn Women’s Basketball The Ultimate Treatment – Hartford Courant

Chrissy Ducharme had a moment of realization when she watched her daughter lying in bed after surgery surrounded by her teammates on the UConn women’s basketball team at The Graduate Hotel in Storrs.

It was late April, and Caroline Ducharme had just had surgery on her left thigh. There were Paige Bakers, Aaliyah Edwards, Nica Mall, Durka Johass, Amari Deberry, and Beth Gabriel (now at the transfer gate) with balloons and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Muhl got a card wishing “Happy Birthday” to the “new” Lorque Ducharme. Associate athletic trainer Janelle Francisco was there sometime that afternoon as well.

It was very moving,” Chrissy Ducharme told The Hartford Courant. “I just stopped… and said, ‘I see, my dear. that’s it. This is your family. That’s why you’re here.”

The Ducharme family had long planned for Caroline to have surgery — to repair an injury she sustained in high school — after her first season. They intended to perform the operation for her at home in a Boston hospital with the same doctor who performed the same surgery for her older sister, Ashley. But after fighting through a season of pain and developing a close relationship with her teammates, Caroline asked her parents if she could have the surgery at UConn.

This year, Caroline’s first life away from home was all about trusting Chrissy and Todd Ducharme. Trust that their daughter can make her own decisions. Trust that she can play through the pain. Trust surgery and rehabilitation to be performed the way you want it, at UConn facilities under team coaching. Since Caroline spends all day alongside Johas, who is rehabilitating the broken left wrist he suffered during the NCAA Championships, it’s clear to them that this was the right call all along.

“Everyone knows that rehab can be challenging both mentally and physically,” Caroline said. “So I just think [Dorka and I] Having each other, kind of helping each other through that and helping keep our spirits up was great.”

Caroline doesn’t remember exactly when she first injured her hip, though she thinks it might have been her junior season in high school. The injury progressed over time and was managed with treatment, but it was clear that it would eventually have to be treated.

When Ducharmes met with UConn team orthopedist Dr. Michael Joyce before Caroline’s first year, they decided she could wait to have surgery without any long-term damage.

“Dr. Todd Ducharme recalls that Joyce was great,” and he said, “Look, unless it’s something you can’t physically go through or it’s just too painful to play with, we’ll look at getting the surgery. But until then, we’ll see if We could have gotten through the season and done it right at the end of the season.”

Caroline would never have admitted that it was so painful. She did express a lot after that date, which was no surprise to her parents. This is she. There is a sure saying the family has for the 6-foot-2 guard: “She won’t be rejected.”

Her parents said the hip was annoying and it had an effect on Caroline all season. Meanwhile, injuries began to pile up on the huskies. Both Azzi Fodd and the Boyers missed a significant time starting in December, and Aubrey Griffin was out all season.

Ducharme rose to keep the season alive in his absences, averaging 17.6 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists from December 11 to February 2, including a game-winning shot at DePaul on January 26. But then Ducharme was badly injured in multiple competitions, forcing her to participate in four matches from February 4 to 11. UConn coach Geno Auriemma was ambiguous about the nature of the injury at the time; A head injury was mentioned at one point, but tests did not show a concussion.

The phone calls home frequently began with a discussion of her hip and how much pain Caroline was in. Those conversations were difficult for Todd and Chrissy, knowing that their daughter was suffering. They repeatedly asked if she wanted to keep playing through it, but in the end they realized they had to trust her judgment.

“She was like, ‘I’m going to do anything and everything to help this team and it doesn’t matter how I feel.’ Chrissy remembers that’s what I’m going to do.

“This is it. … She will find a way, and she will figure it out. She is going to fail, she is very determined. And she just loves basketball and she loves this team – she immediately fell in love with all these girls and the coaches and she is very committed to that.”

As long as it took, looking back now, Caroline wouldn’t change the decision.

“It was definitely painful,” Ducharme said. “But I think the way I was able to attack him all season and keep him together to play was really great, and I’m glad I did. I definitely didn’t want to have the surgery before.”

While all of their teammates have been visiting their families and taking a much-needed break in recent weeks, Ducharme and Juhas have been at Storrs to rehabilitate their injuries.

“We feel relieved,” Johasz said. “We’ve made a lot of progress. It’s also been easier to have each other because obviously our injuries are very different, but just because there’s someone who can go every day to rehab (with you), it can be kind of boring doing the same exercises. So it’s good to have one of your teammates there.”

The duo developed a completely consistent routine. They spend 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at UConn facilities to work with coaches, coaches, and academic staff, and spend time with Francisco and Director of Athletic Performance Andrea Headey. Auriemma said last week that the schedule for both players will return to work with the team sometime in August.

Neither Ducharme nor Juhasz has a car (although they can’t drive anyway due to their injuries), so they spend the rest of the time lounging in their apartments. Nights to watch WNBA and NBA games. Ducharmez often has two or three screens running simultaneously and sends pictures of her parents or calls in excitement about something that happened on the W. They particularly enjoyed watching UConn teammates OIivia Nelson-Ododa, at the Los Angeles Sparks, and Evina Westbrook with the Minnesota Lynx.

They attended the WNBA game in person Tuesday night, enjoying their first night off the field as the Connecticut Sun played with the Dallas Wings. Juhász had a two-month follow-up with her doctor earlier in the day and was left out, although she still plans to wear it when she’s working.

“The bones heal really well,” Johasz said. “For me, that’s kind of just getting movement back, flexion, you know, everything goes back to normal. And then as soon as I get that, I’m almost done, and then I can start strengthening. … Maybe I’ll be ready in time Closer than I think, but I have to get the strength back, that confidence and building muscle around the bones and everything.”

Ducharme has also hit a milestone recently, as she has progressed from two crutches to one. The current focus in her rehab is on muscle activation, so she’s been doing kinetic work in the pool. She managed to put more weight on her left leg, and she even did small squats.

Although the rehabilitation process is often repetitive and tedious, Ducharme is beginning to feel the day she is back in good health getting closer and closer.

“Once I could move, it was like, ‘Okay, I can kind of see the light at the end,'” Ducharme said. “

Lila Bromberg can be reached in lbromberg@courant.com and LilaBBromberg on Twitter.