People of Georgian: Varsity basketball player writing book on women’s ACL injuries

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The Georgian community is full of unique, inspiring perspectives —and we’re sharing them as part of an ongoing series.

People of Georgian: Meet Mairin Dempster-Huggins

It was literally the first minute of the first quarter of the first game of the season when I tore my ACL.  

I jumped up to intercept a pass, but when I landed, my foot and knee basically came to a fork in the road and decided to go opposite ways. I just didn’t land properly and it popped, tearing my ACL, which is a strong band of tissue that helps connect your thigh bone to your shinbone.

You get this really unfamiliar feeling and then hear a pop. You go into complete shock and don’t really know what’s going on. Then you feel like your whole knee is unstable, like it’s going to give out if you walk on it.

I was only 12 years old when that happened.

A person wearing a basketball uniform reading "Grizzlies" smiles and walks across a basketball court.
Mairin is a member of Georgian’s women’s varsity basketball team.

Two years to the day at age 14 I tore the other one.

I have to have full reconstructive surgery for both injuries, and I wasn’t able to play for about a year and a half with each of them.

Two people play basketball against each other on a court.
Mairin tore her ACL twice when she was a kid.

Injuries inspire Mairin to study them

Going through that at a young age and being exposed to the health-care industry very early on made me want to study these injuries and why they happen.

There are lots of things that really we don’t know enough about, and quite honestly, I didn’t know what an ACL was before I went into sports.

If you’re a sports fan of any kind, you hear about it all the time, especially in women’s basketball.

Members of a basketball team cheer on their players from the sidelines.
Mairin is writing a book about female athletes’ ACL injuries.

‘I wanted to do something about it’

Over the last few months, I’ve been talking to researchers and reaching out to other professionals to get their opinions.

I wanted to do something about it, so I’ve been collecting information to write a book, called Stop the Pop, which will essentially be a female athlete’s guide to competitive sports in regard to ACL injuries, how to prevent them, and how they shouldn’t be normalized.

If we actually dedicate time to research this and have more of an open dialogue about it, we can prevent it in many more ways than we actually think we can.

Mairin Dempster-Huggins, a student in Georgian’s Fitness and Health Promotion program who was recruited to play varsity basketball at the college. In her first year of play, she achieved four game MVPs, led her team in rebounding for the season, and was recognized as an OCAA All-Academic.

Learn more about Mairin’s research

Mairin is hosting a booth at the Fitness and Health Promotion Expo on Thursday, April 4 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Sadlon Centre for Health, Wellness and Sciences (M building), ground floor, Georgian’s Barrie Campus, One Georgian Dr., Barrie, ON.

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