Moving Forward



Jan. 14, 2012

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By Jenna Marina

ORLANDO, Fla. ( - UCF sophomore forward Sarah Green has always idolized her older brother ever since the two were children and Sarah coveted Tim's artistic ability and penmanship.

The pair eventually turned rivals as the three-year-elder Tim played football for fellow Conference USA member Southern Miss and Sarah joined the Knights women's basketball team last season. After tearing her ACL last year against Tulsa and undergoing surgery, Green spent the next eight-and-a-half months rehabbing in order to return to the team this season.

When times got tough, Sarah used her older brother as her anchor and inspiration.

"My family was telling me, you know Tim was fighting death. He was fighting to come back so he could just live again, talk again. So if he could do that, then [my rehab] is nothing compared to what he had to go through," Sarah said.

On Nov. 13, 2010, Sarah's brother Tim was part of the Southern Miss football team's 31-21 upset against No. 25 UCF. That same night, Sarah and the Knights lost their season opener to Florida by 10 points in Gainesville.

"He texted me that night when we were on the way back home. I didn't really want to talk to him that much because I was kind of upset about that game because we lost, and I didn't think I had played well," Sarah recalled. "I went home and went to sleep, and at 4 a.m. my sister called me and said, `Don't be alarmed, but Tim just got shot in the neck.'"

Tim and two of his teammates were out celebrating at Remington's Hunt Club at 1:30 a.m. when their night took a tragic turn. A fight broke out and shots were fired. Linebacker Martez Smith was paralyzed from the waist down. Tim was shot in the neck and hospitalized.

Sarah asked her sister to repeat the news. Then she immediately started crying.

"I couldn't even pray because I was so upset," Sarah said. "My roommate at the time was Chelsie Wiley. I went into her room and I told her - well what she could make out because I was crying so hard. Chelsie stayed there with me that night, and she prayed with me and read some scriptures with me."

Tim couldn't speak for several days after the shooting, and the junior linebacker wasn't sure he would be able to play football again because doctors were not sure he'd be able to breathe correctly.

Sarah wasn't able to reunite with Tim until Christmas, but thanks to Skype she was able to be with her brother in his hospital room. Although he couldn't talk, he wrote messages to Sarah and showed them through the computer screen.

"His spirits were high," Sarah recalled. "When I was talking to him, I was joking around with him and he was laughing so I knew he was alright."

Months went by as Tim slowly recovered and eventually returned to the team for his senior year, but Sarah went through adversity next when she tore her ACL at Tulsa on Feb. 6. Having never sustained a major injury before, Sarah did not comprehend the hardship she was about to endure during the rehab process.

"When I had the surgery, I thought after the surgery my leg was going to be fine and it was going to work again," Sarah said. "The surgery was the easiest part."

Sarah worked on strengthening her knee from March 17 until last month on Dec. 18 when she was finally cleared for full contact. She said the hardest part was getting her knee to bend 90 degrees. Sarah cried often and when she reached her breaking point, it was her brother who offered the support she needed to pull herself together.

"He's always been tough," Sarah said. "When I talked to him he would say, you know Sarah, you just have to man up. He was talking about how so many people back home want to be in the position that I'm in. I have this great opportunity so he was just saying that I had to toughen up."

Her teammates also reminded her how much she loved the game.

"I remember wanting to quit," Sarah said. "When I finally got it together and I watched my teammates play at the rec and play against each other and even just watching them struggle, it made me hungry and wanted to play even more."

Sarah's first game back was at No. 3 Notre Dame. She has appeared in four games and continues to work on her conditioning and skill set, but associate head coach Greg Brown is confident that the forward is better for having fought through the adversity.

"She learned a tremendous amount about herself. I think she learned to trust people more. It's a huge growing experience, and when accepted and trusted and done right, you come back a much stronger person for that," said Brown, who is Sarah's position coach. "She is stronger than she was last year. She's more aggressive than she was last year, and contact doesn't bother her like it did last year, so she's come a long way."



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