'It's bigger than basketball': How one Lady Maverick bounced back

Senior guard Jordynn Hernandez, center, cheers on senior guard Marie Benson, right, before a game against Georgia Southern University on Feb. 29 at College Park Center. Hernandez suffered a knee injury during her first year with the Lady Mavericks.

From McKinney to UTA, senior guard Jordynn Hernandez has faced lots of adversity throughout her basketball career.

Hernandez’s first year with the Lady Mavericks was derailed after she suffered a knee injury, forcing her to miss the entire season. She was shocked because she didn’t realize she would spend the year on the sidelines

“When I went into surgery, it was just supposed to be a scope, so it was just supposed to be max six weeks out,” Hernandez said. “Right before they took me back to surgery [the doctor] was saying it might be a microfracture, and if that was the case, I would be out for six to eight months.”

This wasn’t the first time Hernandez faced an injury of that severity. During her time at McKinney Boyd High School, Hernandez tore most of the ligaments in her knee. The injury made her miss out on collegiate offers.

“At that point I was thinking, ‘I might not — maybe I shouldn’t play basketball — maybe basketball is not for me,’” Hernandez said.

It was uncertain whether Hernandez would continue her playing career. Things took a positive turn when she received a call from Jeff Allen, Collin College women’s basketball head coach.

In her time at Collin College, Hernandez averaged 10.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.3 steals as a freshman. She improved her sophomore season, averaging 12.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.4 steals.

While she worked through her injuries, Hernandez was supported by her family and coaching staff. She said her family encouraged a positive mindset, and people like Tasha Koontz, UTA associate athletic trainer, and Danny Wardell, UTA strength and conditioning coach, pushed and motivated her when she was away from her family.

“I know things could be worse. That’s how we look at it as a family. They always kept me positive and told me to keep going and see the brighter things,” Hernandez said. “My dad always told me, ‘Now you get to learn from a different perspective.’”

Although Hernandez was recovering last season, she succeeded in a different role. She helped coach her teammates.

“When I was injured, I didn’t want to just be on the sidelines moping; I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity that I had,” Hernandez said. “I just wanted to help my teammates get better as well as help [myself] learn.”

Coaching her teammates after her injury bolstered Hernandez’s work ethic.

“You can’t accomplish the things you want to accomplish without working hard,” she said. “When it’s time to come to business, it’s time to work.”

Hernandez’s work ethic, relentlessness and leadership fit right in with what head coach Shereka Wright wanted in a player.

“She has worked extremely hard to get back to the point of where she is healthy and strong,” Wright said. “We know that we will definitely need her this year, and she will have an instrumental part to our success this year.”

Wright said Hernandez has expressed interest in coaching someday, and she is already putting the senior guard in a position to understand what it means to be a coach.

“Those things are important. It’s important right now, especially with a team that I have right now that’s very experienced,” Wright said. “She does have that role, and she does have the respect from her teammates.”

Senior forward Bre Wickware said Hernandez has a high basketball IQ and it shows through how hard she works and her effort on the court.

“Her work ethic is really impressive and really commendable, so I think that’s something we definitely all look towards her for,” Wickware said. “She gives us a different perspective that you don’t always get from teammates, which I think has been really refreshing.”

Wickware said she thinks Hernandez will fare well in her first full, healthy season with the Lady Mavericks.

“I definitely know that she’s gonna take advantage of her opportunity,” Wickware said. “I think she works really hard, so I think all of that hard work is gonna pay off.”

Hernandez said she never gave in to the adversity she faced because of how her family handled situations life threw at them.

“The reason I didn’t give up is because I watched my little brother fight for his life multiple times and I see my parents fight the negatives every day with a smile on their face,” she said. “It’s bigger than basketball. It’s about being an example to women who fight battles every day.”

@JayRod003

sports-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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