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DVC basketball player overcomes major knee injuries

Luis Lopez, Staff member

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Being robbed of your passion is one of the worst things that can happen in life.

That’s why injuries are one of the worst parts of sports.

For Vikings’ basketball player Steven Daily however, injuries were never going to hold him back from dominating on the court.

Daily has sustained one of the worst injuries an athlete can get, an ACL tear not once but twice, in his career.

His first tear came during highschool, while playing a summer league game at Diablo Valley College.

Daily went up for a dunk and after landing hard off contact from another player, he knew immediately that something bad had happened.

He recovered in a big way however, setting multiple school records in his junior year, earning MVP honors in his senior year at College Park and becoming that season’s leading scorer.

Not liking his recruiting options coming out of high school, Daily decided to take his talents to DVC.

It didn’t take Daily long to step onto the scene for the Vikings, as he earned a starting spot by the time conference play started in his freshman season.

Unfortunately, while practicing, Daily landed hard after going up for a rebound, and this time, he knew something severe had happened.

“What first went through my mind was anger and worry, as soon as it happened, I knew my ACL was torn, I was mad and disappointed, I had just been working so hard on getting better. I had put in all this work and now it had gotten taken away from me,” said Daily.

Daily not only tore his ACL, but also the meniscus in each knee, with one being fully ruptured.

“The doctor said there was a 50-50 chance I would come back and play, or not be able to play anymore,” said Daily.

The average amount of time it takes to recover from such a severe set of injuries can take up to an entire year.

For any athlete who loves their sport, the pain of a severe injury pales in comparison to the pain of knowing they will have to take an extended period of time away from the game they love.

“This second recovery from the ACL was five times harder than the first time I had to recover from surgery,” said Daily.

The injury also took an emotional toll on those around him.

“I’ve never been more disappointed in all my years at DVC and all the athletes I’ve coached than when he tore his ACL in late June of ’16,” said head coach Steve Coccimiglio, who has been coaching basketball for over 40 years.

While recovering Daily felt a sense of helplessness when watching his team play.

“It was very frustrating, because you know that watching your team play, you see some of the mistakes that they make and you’re like, ‘man I could be out there’ and I wouldn’t make those mistakes, I could do that play,” said Daily. “It was hard, but you have to stay focused on other things in your life other than basketball that define you, because basketball doesn’t define who I am,” said Daily.

Luckily friends and family were constantly a great support system, often hanging out with him while he was stuck on the couch at his house during the early stages of his recovery.

“I couldn’t walk for the first six weeks after surgery, so I had my brother, whenever he was off work, was hanging out with me, and my friends would come over and just hang out with me the whole day because they knew how (unfortunate) it was to not do anything,” said Daily.

After months of physical therapy and rehab to his knee, Daily made his way back to the basketball court.

“His recovery is something I have great respect for,” said coach Coccimiglio.

That respect is something that has also made its way to his teammates too.

“Seeing someone who hasn’t been able to play for a year come back as well as he has and play as aggressively as he does, he’s not playing in fear of another injury, I really think that gets our team going,” said teammate Ben Wood.

During his recovery the coaching staff helped Daily by being patient and continuing to have confidence in him telling him, “it (the game) will come back to you.”

The process has paid off for Daily.

“In our game (against Columbia), there was a three or five minute stretch when our offense couldn’t get going, so we just started giving the ball to Steve, and getting out of the way, and he got us right back in it,”┬ásaid Wood. “He got us going both on offense and on defense, that’s why we can rely on him playing at a high level on both sides of the ball for us.”

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DVC basketball player overcomes major knee injuries