An ACL tear ended Mincey’s 2017 early, but the senior beat his healing schedule to play.
Ashton Mincey’s reputation as a student-athlete is solid for good reason.
The Plant City Raiders’ middle linebacker has proven to be a hard worker on the field, consistently playing well in his three seasons with the varsity team. He’s a hard worker in the classroom, currently sporting a 4.56 GPA. He also proved in the offseason that he’s a hard worker when it comes to injury rehabilitation.
One of the last injuries any football player — really, any athlete — wants to suffer is a torn ACL. Mincey was having a productive season for the Raiders through five games in 2017 when he was unlucky enough to get the injury. Just like that, his season was over.
“I was devastated because I didn’t think I was going to come back,” Mincey said.
His doctor told him he’d most likely be able to go back to the field by this month. That made Mincey feel better, but he wanted something more. With one season left to ball out, help the team get back to the playoffs and get his college plans finalized, the senior didn’t want to miss a thing. He didn’t just want to resume activity by August — he wanted to be feeling back to 100% by August.
“I kept myself motivated by telling myself I wanted to come back stronger than I did last year, make more plays than I did last year and just help our team win more than last year,” Mincey said.
The ACL tear is not an injury where athletes can be sure they’ll come back as they were or, like a baseball player after Tommy John surgery, a little bit stronger. Before the 1990s, a torn ACL was an athlete’s career death sentence. Advances in medicine have helped change that for the better, but the injury still requires great care and patience during a grueling rehab process. No matter what, you wrestle with the chance that the tiny ligament won’t heal properly and your performance will never be the same.
Mincey fought through the pain of rehab three days a week and hit the weight room every day as soon as he was cleared for it hoping he’d be one of the lucky ones, a quick healer. His prayers were rewarded: he was able to walk on his own in less than two months, the ligament healed faster than the prognosis suggested and Mincey entered August ready for the real deal.
“Just trust the process,” he said. “If you trust the process it’ll go by quickly. It will be painful, but it will go by. You will come back.
Mincey said he feels totally comfortable moving at game speed. Head coach James Booth said the senior looks like he hasn’t missed a beat out there. If this is the case, that’s good news for Plant City’s defense and bad news for the offenses on the Raiders’ schedule.