Minooka’s Erin Heide has a pretty strong pain tolerance.
But last year, a month into her junior season, she decided she had had about enough. The pain in her right foot wasn’t something to be ignored anymore.
“It was hurting for awhile, and I played on it so it got even worse,” Heide said. “If I would have just taken care of it, I would have been fine, but I didn’t want to be out. I waited, and it turned out to be a stress fracture.”
Diagnosed with a stress fracture in her right foot, the guard missed over a month of the season.
Heide did the only thing she could to rehab the injury. She sat. She rested.
“I tried to stay off it as much as I could,” Heide said. “It was really tough in practice to sit and watch, sitting there at games knowing you could be out there. I wanted to be back for regionals.”
The junior returned just in time, playing in Minooka’s final regular season game before helping propel a surprising playoff run. Seeded fourth and forced to play a quarterfinal game, the Indians won three games, two of them upsets, before finally falling short in the sectional semifinals.
A lot of things had to happen for the run, but Coach Ray Liberatore said the biggest thing was the return of Heide.
“Our record was so much better with Erin than without her,” Liberatore said. “We were the four-seed going into regionals and won three games because we got her back. That was a major reason.”
Now nine months removed from the injury and a week into her senior season,
Heide estimates her right foot is about 95 percent. The pain is there at times, but it’s nothing she can’t handle.
The 5-foot-9 guard wants to make the most of her senior season.
“It hurts every so often, but I know I can play through it,” Heide said. “The team really wants to be conference champions, and we want to be regional champs for the fourth straight year. That would be really cool.”
With a young team around her, Heide’s calming presence on the court is as essential as ever. Through Minooka’s first two games, both wins, the senior is averaging 10.5 points per game.
Her stats are one thing though, her leadership another with freshman point guard Brooklyn Bachmann adjusting to the varsity speed.
“Erin is a three-year varsity player so having a freshman point guard who’s very talented, it’s great to have that senior (Erin) who can take her under her wing,” Liberatore said. “That’s a great situation for her.”
Heide is ready for whatever the season offers, whether it’s her own individual stats or helping her younger, inexperienced teammates.
“I want the younger girls to look up to me and see what I’m doing,” Heide said. “Just knowing that I have a role in being a leader as a senior on the team is big for me.”