NORTH ADAMS -- Morgan Lamarre isn’t used to sitting on the bench.
Since making the Drury girls’ basketball team as an eighth-grader, the bench is the last place Lamarre has spent the majority of her time. She earned a starting role as a freshman and never looked back.
That is, until this season. The now-junior suffered a concussion in the first game of the year against Taconic on Dec. 10. For the next six weeks, she found herself in an unfamiliar situation. She sat on the bench for nine games and was left to wonder what the team was working on during practices.
"It was somewhat frustrating," Lamarre said after practice Wednesday. "But it’s been really nice to come back to my team and be on the court.
"It’s been really exciting, but I’ve been a little bit nervous. I’ve missed playing, so they’ve been a little bit more emotional than normal games."
She got back onto the court for the first time against Monument Mountain on Jan. 26 in a limited role. She saw a few more minutes against Lee on Tuesday.
She hasn’t factored into the scoring yet, but she’s still contributing. The Blue Devils are 2-0 in her first two games back. That includes the team’s first victory over Lee since 2005, a 47-37 win on Tuesday night.
"I know it was a lift for us emotionally to have her in there because she gives us a lot," coach John Franzoni said. "She does all those little intangibles on the court. She plays great defense, she rebounds, she can hit an open shot and she handle the ball for us."
When she first got hurt, neither Lamarre or Franzoni imagined she would miss half of the season. Playing on the team for the past three-plus seasons has been extremely helpful for her knowing what the team is trying to do and has helped her transition back into the lineup. While she’s still working on getting her conditioning back, she’s looking forward to what the rest of the season has in store for the Blue Devils.
"Definitely not [half the season]. I knew that I would miss a lot of the season, but I knew that when I came back I would work hard and be able to play again," Lamarre said. "[The last two wins] have been really big for us. I’m glad our team has been able to work as well as we have been together and keep winning.
"It’s been really fun. I’m really glad to be back and I can’t wait to start the rest of our season."
Even when she wasn’t on the floor, Lamarre contributed to the success of the Blue Devils. Drury went 6-3 without her on the court. Franzoni credits her leadership as a big reason why the team succeeded.
"She’s a great leader and a great player," Franzoni said. "She started every game her freshman and sophomore years. As much as she was frustrated this year by this injury, she stayed positive and really showed why she is such a great leader."
The junior captain attended every game for Blue Devils despite not being able to put her uniform on. She knew that was the way to stay involved and contribute to her team.
"From sitting on the bench you can see a lot more than you do when you’re on the court," Lamarre said. "That helps, but it was frustrating."
Missing games was tough, but not being allowed to attend practices was even harder for Lamarre. When she first sustained the injury she was ordered to stay away from the gym.
A concussion isn’t like other injuries. It can affect everything a person does. Common symptoms are sensitivity to sound and light. Lamarre wasn’t allowed to workout or participate in any physical activity, either.
"There was a point and time where I couldn’t come to practice, which was the toughest," she said. "Just because I couldn’t see what was going on. I really wanted to stay involved."
She was cleared to begin physical activities in mid January. After about a week of practicing she saw her first game action.
She says the transition back into the lineup has been easy. After being out for so long, it could be easy for other players to become used to their roles on the team. Lamarre’s return hasn’t seemed to upset the team’s chemistry. And with a week to practice before the Blue Devils’ next game, it will give her more time to adjust.
"As much as we wanted her back, it’s tough to walk in in the middle of the season," Franzoni said. "She wasn’t allowed to start working out until the last 10 days or so. And as much as our practices can be intense, they’re still not a game. There isn’t another team in another uniform, there isn’t a crowd in the stands, there are no officials. That game intensity is tough to get back, especially when you’ve missed six weeks in the middle of the season."
Lenox visits Drury on Feb. 4, giving the Blue Devils plenty of time to bring Lamarre back up to speed and get her reinstated in the team’s systems.
"She’s been a big part of our team for the last four years," said Franzoni. "You hate to see anyone going through an injury, especially the type of injury she had to go through. It’s really nice to see her back out on the court playing and smiling."
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On Twitter: @NAT_DigitialSam