When Caitlin Bamberger took the court for the Shippensburg University women’s basketball team on Jan. 19, she produced more than a four-point performance in her seven minutes of action.
No, she produced far more.
Embarking on an arduous rehabilitation, the senior from Fleetwood, Pa., embodied leadership and true grit as she made her first appearance since injuring her ACL two months before when the team traveled to Hawaii.
“I went up for a rebound at West [Liberty] and I was hit coming down, it felt weak so I sat the second half,” Bamberger said. “At practice I landed doing a layup and just collapsed.”
Collapsing onto the hardwood, Bamberger would show the SU community what she had in store — fall down seven times, get up eight. Her statement to her teammates would become clearer as the days progressed.
“I knew I would be able to recover from it,” Bamberger said.
For the senior, battling through injury and adversity was relatively new. Coming from a well-traveled background from Missouri to Fleetwood, Pa., Bamberger was a three-star athlete in basketball at Fleetwood High School who totaled 934 points as a two-year captain and a four-year varsity starter. An injury-free high school career was met with what would be a string of frustrating setbacks for Bamberger.
Coming into SU her freshman year, Bamberger was ready to compete. However, the injury bug started to hit, forcing Bamberger to take a medical redshirt her first season.
The following year Bamberger came back and thrived in her first year appearing in 25 games, averaging 4.3 points and 3.8 rebounds during her first full year of competition. Her presence was felt in back-to-back double-doubles against Kutztown University and Bloomsburg University in January and after her 48-point, 38-rebound performance in the 2009-2010 season, Bamberger was ready to lead the charge heading into the next year.
All of that came crashing down in the team’s first game of the 2010-2011 campaign. In the team’s first game against Shepherd University, the injury bug hit Bamberger again, as she was sidelined for the team’s first 17 games with a broken foot.
“It was frustrating because I had finally gotten myself back into the best shape I had been in and I made it through preseason without any issues,” Bamberger said.
However, Bamberger once again battled back as she started the team’s last four games and finished the year with 8.8 points per game, shooting a blistering 43 percent from the field — her best performance coming from a 12-point, 13-rebound performance against Mansfield.
Her battle through adversity has helped cement herself as one of the true leaders on this SU squad. While out with her torn ACL this year, Bamberger provided guidance off the court, especially to freshman sensation Stephanie Knauer.
“When she wasn’t able to play she was the most positive and helped out her teammates and now she’s sort of shown that perseverance in her play,” SU head coach Kristy Trn said.
Two years later, with Mansfield University once again thrust into the spotlight, Bamberger’s seven minutes of play signified that no matter how many times she may fall, there is always another opportunity to get back up.
“Being our captain she did as much as she could to help everyone even though she couldn’t be out on the court,” senior guard Shawna Wert said. “She has worked her butt off to get back to play and do what she can to make this a good year since it is her last.”