When Alysha Clark injured her foot over a year ago, she had no idea how tough the road to recovery would be. In fact, the road back to basketball took over 420 days but finally on Friday, Clark was able to join her Washington Mystics teammates on gameday for the first time ever. It was also her first WNBA game since October 6, 2020.
As the 2021 offseason unfolded, Clark was considered one of the Mystics top free agent acquisitions. The two-time WNBA champion was acquired from the Seattle Storm as a much-needed replacement for Aerial Powers who signed with the Minnesota Lynx.
But like most WNBA athletes, Clark played overseas during the offseason where she suffered a Lisfranc injury in France that required surgery. Clark was known as one of the best defenders in the league prior to the injury.
Now the question before her Dallas Wings debut became does she still have the same aggression on the floor that she once had.
“Alysha was signed to be a year ago to be an X-factor and I believe that can still hold true,” said Mystics Coach Mike Thibault about Clark’s upcoming return.
With the anticipation of her return building up throughout the week, one thing Clark wanted to prove to herself is that she still has the ability to be an X-factor. But first she had to keep her emotions at bay.
“It’s exciting. Its been a long journey to be at this point. It feels like the first day of school all over again. I’m a little nervous but moreso excited.”
The possibility of crying was also a concern.
“I almost cried, I almost cried,” Clark said. “So before the game, during the national anthem, I always pray. That’s my time to pray. And during that time, like at the end of it, I was just like: ‘Nope, we’re not doing it. We’re here. Suck it up.”
After that it was time for action. Although the Mystics suffered their first loss of the season at the hands of the Dallas Wings, Clark looked impressive with nine points, four rebounds, and one assist.
“She got off to a good start,” said Coach Thibault. “You’re talking about someone who played 19 minutes and has nine points and four rebounds. That’s a great start.”
Her teammate Elena Delle Donne who was also out last season and became close to Clark was happy to see her back.
“I know all the work she has put in and all the days we’ve been in here together,” Delle Donne said. “To see her out there is super special and it’s also a testament to our organization being able to help find us what we need in order to get our health back. It’s huge.”
Although she is happy to be in the rotation again, the adversity she faced did not come without personal reflection. Clark learned a lot about herself throughout the recovery process. Most importantly, she realized she is stronger than she thought. Clark elaborates below.
Alysha Clark’s adversity led to that important self-revelation which is something that will keep her pushing forward.