Last summer from a basketball standpoint was less than eventful for Ashley Margraf, a senior point guard at Bishop Eustace, but she knows all too well from experience that it could have been worse.
Playing in an AAU tournament in Hampton, Va., the first of the summer, Margraf hurt her ankle.
At first, she realized that it wasn't just a basic sprain. But after receiving the prognosis, Margraf was slightly relieved.
She suffered a torn ligament in her right ankle, and while it would end her summer of competition, the chance to suit up for her high school team, something that means the world to Margraf, wouldn't be jeopardized.
That wasn't the case her sophomore year, when Margraf missed the entire high school season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee.
Still, when last summer's injury occurred, it brought back less-than-pleasant memories.
"I remember thinking that I can't catch a break," she recalled.
Of course, between the idle sophomore season and last summer, Margraf's basketball resume consisted of a sensational junior campaign.
The Crusaders were 23-5, shared the Olympic Conference's National Division title with Camden Catholic, won the South Jersey Non-Public B title, and finally went down to a more talented Paterson Catholic team in the state final.
Even in that game, Margraf made the most memorable of impressions. She was named Eustace's game MVP with an impressive double-double of 12 points and 10 steals, while also contributing two assists.
"It was a good feeling being the MVP, but it would have been 10 times better if we won the championship," Margraf said.
A by-product of not being able to compete in the summer was that Margraf didn't receive the college exposure that comes with playing a full AAU slate.
She has made a commitment to Loyola of Baltimore but has yet to receive a scholarship, although there is a chance one can be earned.
When evaluators grade Margraf, they might want to look past the tape measure. She stands 5-foot-3 but plays a lot taller.
"She sees the court as well as girls 6-3," Eustace coach Kat Burke said. "I know basketball is a game of height, but you have to see her and have to witness what she can do with the ball and how she sets others up."
"I consider her one of the top point guards in South Jersey," Burke said.
Margraf plays with a quiet confidence. What she loves most is competing. Her appreciation of being on the court grew during her unwanted respite as a sophomore.
"As a sophomore, I missed an entire step of basketball, and being back for my junior year was amazing," she said. "It just felt so good to be back on the court."
The same feeling exists now. She will team with Jackie Schluth, a Drexel recruit and fellow Eustace all-conference performer, to give the Crusaders a devastating outside-inside combination.
Margraf has been counting the days until the season begins. Eustace will open Friday at Camden in an interesting National Division game. Despite losing three starters, the Crusaders are again expected to be among the top teams in South Jersey.
"I think we are going to do great," Margraf said. "All the girls bring something different, and all have come together to form a great team."
And, of course, the catalyst will be the point guard, who makes not only her team but also the sport of basketball better now that she is back on the court.