Ethan Simpson’s senior season didn’t go exactly as planned.
In the second week of the football season, a 39-20 win at Cumberland Gap was overshadowed by an injury.
Simpson left the game with a torn ACL, a torn MCL, and a half torn meniscus.
Now, nearly five months after that game, Simpson is being cleared to return to the hardwood for the Cougars.
“It’s really big because I didn’t know that I was going to be back,” Simpson said. “It’s very exciting to know that I’ll get to play again.
“It’s a major memory, playing basketball in high school. Especially, since it’s my senior year. I want to remember as something that I enjoy rather than sitting on the sideline.”
For Campbell County, it’s going to be a major help.
When Campbell County head coach Matt Housley first heard news of the injury, he said he knew Simpson wouldn’t make it back for his senior campaign.
“When they said it was a six month recovery process, I did the math and it was April 2,” Housley said. “He’s such a freak of an athlete, he went into his doctor’s appointment, and they said, ‘You’re three months along.’ It was like six weeks.”
According to Housley, doctors told Simpson he would be reevaluated on Jan. 16. Since that announcement, the senior guard has been working hard to get back on the court for Campbell County.
To Simpson, however, the hardest part has been having to watch his team play.
“It was hard at first, just because I’m so used to being out there and being a major part of the sport,” he said. “I’m used to playing a major part of the game. It’s hard being on the sideline, but I just got used to it. I just tried to support the team the best I could from the sideline.”
However, Simpson still has a little road left to go.
Although he’s been continually working, Housley says he’ll still have to get back in shape.
Plus, his ACL is still trying to get back into shape, according to Simpson.
“I know he’s going to come back, and he’s going to have to work his way back in,” Housley said. “He’s going to have to get the stamina and the cardio in the way we want him to go. If we can get Ethan, he just really makes everybody calm. He’s just a guy that’s going to get everybody involved.”
Housley said that his guard is unselfish, and sometimes almost too unselfish.
To senior Gunner St. John, that’s a good thing.
“That’s going to help a lot,” St. John said. “Most of the time, he’s a pass first guy. We’ve got a lot of shoot first guys…we all like to shoot. With him helping with the pass, that’s going to help the ball movement.”
No other player will be more relieved to see Simpson return than Trey Torres.
This season, the sophomore has handled the point guard duties nearly on his own. To have two ball handlers in the game at the same time, it’ll be a big relief for the young player.
“That will be good,” Torres said. “He’ll help me with the ball a whole lot. He’ll get in shape and start helping us out on offense. He’ll help us out on offense with just the ball handling. We’ll be better with him.”
From a coaching standpoint, nothing could be better, according to Housley.
“This will be the best thing for Trey Torres,” Housley said. “It’s going to take all the pressure of having to fight an athletic defender for 70 feet before getting in the offense. Just from the ball handling standpoint, he just makes everybody at ease.”
Throughout his entire process, Simpson said the coaches and players of both the football and basketball teams have been extremely supportive.
To Simpson, that support has been a big part of his healing process as he’s been through four to five hours of therapy a week.
To his basketball coach, his ability to work through that and return nearly two months ahead of schedule is just a testament to Simpson’s work ethic.
“That’s just a compliment to him,” Housley said. “He’s an unbelievable worker, and if for anything else, I hope he can get back for him. He’s missed his senior season in football and missed his senior season in basketball. That’s just not the way you want a kid like him to go out. You hate it that it always happens to the best kids.”