A year ago, Mepham High School senior Lorrie Dellacroce, then a junior and the new starting point guard of the girls’ varsity basketball team, had a promising season cut short in devastating fashion. Dellacroce, now 17, tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and medial collateral ligament (MCL) in her right knee when an inbound play went awry during a scrimmage last November. The injury sidelined her for the rest of the season.
Dellacroce, of Bellmore, was rushed to the hospital to have immediate surgery on her knee. The surgery went smoothly, and she thought it would only be a matter of time before she returned to the hardwood. But the road to recovery proved longer than expected.
Dellacroce underwent physical therapy following surgery, but soon realized something was wrong. “My knee wasn’t straightening,” she said. Her doctors ordered a second surgery to remove loose scar tissue, a supposedly quick and easy fix, but an hour in, major complications arose. “I started to have convulsions while under anesthesia,” she said.
Dellacroce was placed in intensive care, and was hooked up to multiple breathing tubes. There was a chance she wouldn’t make it, but an overnight stay allowed her body to recover. “My life was on the line,” she said, “but in the end I was still there, and my knee and I were finally on the road to true recovery.”
A couple of months after the second surgery, Dellacroce returned to physical therapy, but it was no small task. Each week her workouts got progressively harder to get her knee to 100 percent.
“There was no guarantee that she would ever come back on the court,” said Lisa Dellacroce, Lorrie’s mother. “The doctor made it clear from the beginning that it was mostly up to Lorrie to push herself to recover.”
And that’s exactly what she did. During recovery, Dellacroce had the mentality that if she put in the work she’d be one day closer to stepping back on the court, even if it meant fighting through the pain.
As basketball season neared this past November, Dellacroce was eager to get back to the hardwood, but apprehension loomed in her mind each time she planted her foot, a thought she just couldn’t shake.
“I always thought about tearing it again,” Dellacroce said of her ACL and MCL, but, “I couldn’t let the fear hold me back from something I truly enjoyed. I wanted to show everyone I could come back from this, and I did.”
Basketball is highly taxing on the body, and can be hard to return to after a major injury, but Dellacroce said her preseason regimen, which involved scrimmages and team workouts, prepared her both mentally and physically for the start of the rigorous, fifteen-week season.
Her comeback garnered the eye of head Coach Jim Mulvey, who said Dellacroce never complained to him about how her injury affected her career. “[Lorrie’s] as tough a player as I have coached in my 16 years,” he said.
Dellacroce’s perseverance also caught her teammates’ attention. Among them, she is considered a role model, leader and a coach, which was integral during the Pirates’ remarkable Conference A1 title run this past season.
During that time, Dellacroce was able to reclaim her role as the Pirates starting point guard, and even posted season highs. The girls’ varsity basketball team finished their overall season 7-4, and 5-1 in their conference.
“It wasn’t until my surgery that I truly realized how much I enjoy playing,” Dellacroce said, “and how special it is to have the [second chance] to play the game that I always loved.”