While playing in Poland in 2017, Chicago Sky guard Jamierra Faulkner tore the ACL in her left knee, which caused her to miss the entire WNBA season that year. Faulkner returned last summer, only to injure the ACL in her right knee – and damage the meniscus – in a game against the Dallas Wings July 3, ending her season.
Injuries are a part of sports, but season-ending injuries not only take a toll on an athlete’s body, but also their minds. Going under the knife and the subsequent rehab can be torturous. After consecutive injuries one can also become apprehensive about playing with the same fervor with which they once played. Still, Faulkner is coming back.
This past February, the Chicago Sky announced that they’d re-signed her.
“I can count on one hand the number of third-round draft picks that have carved out such a valuable role for themselves in the league the way that Jamierra has, and that’s because she is the epitome of hard work and mental toughness,” Sky head coach James Wade said in a statement. “She is a fearless competitor who has a proven commitment to constantly pushing herself to be the best player she can be. I really look forward to having her back this season.”
The fact that Chicago has committed to Faulkner following two devastating injuries is indicative of the type of player she is. Her speed, leadership, and basketball IQ are of the utmost importance to a young roster. A few weeks into the season, Faulkner isn’t quite ready to go. When will we see her return to the court?
How active were you in training camp?
Really active in training camp. I’m doing on the court drills, player development, and a lot of lifting. I’m just not doing any contact yet.
How far away are you from having any contact?
I’d say about two weeks.
What does coach Wade bring to this team that’s different from your previous coaches?
I feel like coach Wade is probably one of the smartest coaches that I’ve ever played for. He’s fearless. He has that spark to him. He gets on everybody. He just doesn’t care. He’s going to keep it real with you and he’s going to lay it out to you. I like that about him.
What have you seen that you like from the other young point guards on the roster?
They’ve got some speed on them. Chloe’s [Jackson] got a nice mid-range.
Allie, Sloot, and yourself are the only remaining players from the 2014 Finals team. How much does your experience help the young players on the roster and how hungry are you to get back to competing for a championship?
They come to me a lot more than I thought they would about certain plays. Even though I’m not a part of it I’m still on the sideline watching. I’ve got to know it, too, so they come to me about certain plays. They even come to me about off the court stuff — where we’ve got to be, what time, this and that. It kind of makes me feel a little old, actually.
[Laughs] How old are you again?
Yo, I just turned 27.
Oh, you’re so old!
I feel like it! I’m getting there!
Two years in a row you had season-ending knee injuries. How difficult has it been mentally for you throughout your surgeries and rehab?
After the first one, that’s when it took a toll on me mentally. I got a lot better with that. To me being mentally tough is half the battle for an injury like this. When I hit that second one, which was ten times worse, I was like, “Ah, man.” But I was able to be home, so stuff works out. I had my family and my girlfriend there picking me up. I fell into a little depression, but God is good.
So, was it your faith that got you through it?
Definitely, definitely. And my family.
I interviewed you when you were a rookie. You were drafted in the third round and started with Markeisha Gatling and Gennifer Brandon. You’re still standing. What is it about you that through all the adversity you’re still in this league?
I feel like I get better every year. I get more and more fearless every year. I learn more and more every year. I want to get better and I’m doing everything I need to do to get better.
When will we see you on the court?
That’s a surprise, man! I’ll say I’ve got about another month and a half left, maybe not even that. It’s close.