LINCOLN -- Lincoln girls basketball fans have anxiously awaited the return of junior Sarah Snodgrass to the court. She suffered a torn ACL and missed all of her sophomore season, then resumed practice only to find out during Alpha workouts when her knee gave out in July that she had another torn ACL. Snodgrass has been chomping at the bit.
"I probably want it more than anything. I got to play a little bit this summer so I got a little taste of it after my first [ACL injury] and that just made me want it even more after the second time, so I'm more excited to get out there than anything," Snodgrass said.
Lincoln coach Emilianne Cox knows exactly what's on Snodgrass' mind.
"Pretty much every day she just looks at me and I just know what's going through her head. She's like, 'Coach, I'm getting ready to play.' She has a countdown. I already know she has a countdown. She has eight days left [from Jan. 9, 2023] if we let her play," Cox said.
Snodgrass was scheduled for a medical evaluation this week, and witnessing lopsided losses such as an 88-19 setback on the road at Bergman on Jan. 6, 2023, when the Lincoln girls couldn't throw the ball in the ocean only intensifies the desire. Snodgrass knows she can help her team.
"It hurts a lot because those are my best friends and knowing that they are capable on their own of doing a lot more. They are just discouraged by certain things so easily, but I know that once we get a little pep in our step and get that fire under us and get that momentum rolling, we'll be good to go," Snodgrass said.
Snodgrass relied upon her faith throughout the emotional ups and downs. Last summer she thought she was making a comeback, and all of a sudden she went out with another injury.
"That's what I've focused most of my free time in. Like whenever I would be immobile and not be able to walk. That was some of the hardest stuff," Snodgrass said.
Snodgrass leaned towards her youth pastor, Joel Young, of Summers Baptist Church, and her dad, Joe Snodgrass, who is now head coach of Lincoln's seventh grade girls basketball team.
She went through the most pain she's ever experienced physically. That was really discouraging when trying to think of how could she get back to doing all her basketball moves when she could barely walk.
"Every time I turned to God and I just prayed about it everything seemed a lot easier, so I feel I've grown closer to God in a lot of ways and it makes everything a lot easier for me," Snodgrass said.
Snodgrass burst on the Class 3A basketball scene as a 5-feet-9 freshman starter, earning All-Conference honors by averaging 21.2 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists per game. She achieved nine double-doubles over the course of the 2020-2021 girls basketball season. Her all-around skills can generate an impact in almost every aspect of the game, and she's now taller, almost 5-feet-11.
Cox, however, wants Snodgrass to play with a controlled-passion mindset.
"If they say that she's cleared, we're going to have a lot of trust in her. She's got to play smart. It's really just her four month release date, which is two months early. So, if she does get some playing time it will be, 'Sarah, play to protect yourself for the future,' which is what I'm worried about for her. She loves basketball so much and she deserves it -- so playing six [regular season] games for me is not as big as what she can do for us next year, her senior year," Cox said.
After losing their first two games of the new year against West Fork (42-36) and Bergman, the Lady Wolves team regained their composure to secure a 46-39 nonconference victory over Eureka Springs at home in Wolfpack Arena on Monday, Jan. 9, 2023.
Late in the fourth quarter when sophomore Lena Skogen drew her first foul, Cox looked at her assistant coaches, checking to be certain she wasn't in foul trouble after watching sophomore Makayla Quinn exit with five fouls and senior Tabor Lewis pick her fourth earlier.
"Its surprising. At the end of the game my post player had one foul. Usually by the end of the game my post player usually has at least two fouls, but my guards were actually the ones who got in foul trouble," Cox said. "We got a little bit of depth at our guard position and just whoever wants to step up and play, that's who we're looking for."
Snodgrass won't hesitate to answer that call. She lists her favorite scripture as Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ, which strengthens me."
"That's my favorite one all time because No. 1, I know that above all, God's got my back because nothing's possible without God, so if you have God on your side you can do anything you put your mind to," Snodgrass said.
That includes making a comeback on the basketball court, and Lincoln fans say "Amen" to that.