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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Jenkins overcomes tragedy in basketball career

Redshirt senior guard Miranda Jenkins is the most experienced player on the Stony Brook Women’s Basketball team.

But getting to this point has been far from a smooth ride.

Jenkins has been through much more adversity than the average 23-year-old. Her brother, Jeremiah Jenkins, died in a car accident during her junior year of high school. Two years later as a college freshman, she tore her left ACL. Two years after that, she tore her right patella tendon.

That is not quite how a prospective student-athlete would draw up their high school and college careers.

Following the death of her brother, Jenkins—who was a standout guard at Eastern Guilford High School in North Carolina—was unsure if she had the drive to keep playing.

“I considered [leaving] basketball because it was too emotional for me and my parents,” Jenkins said. “It was hard to deal with because at that age, you don’t think you’re going to lose someone. To this day, it’s something I still have trouble dealing with.”

Jenkins and her family were grieving the loss of Jeremiah, who was only 22. But after some deliberation, she ultimately decided to continue playing.

After all, basketball ran in her family.Jeremiah introduced Miranda to the game.

“I started playing when I was five,” Jenkins said. “My brother was probably about ten, and I used to go to his basketball games. So that got me started. And my mom also played. So it ran in the family and I felt like it was something I had to do, and I enjoyed doing it.”

The decision proved fruitful. Jenkins’ senior year in high school was her best season yet. She earned Conference Player of the Year, team Most Valuable Player and a selection to the All-State team.

Jenkins decided to play collegiately at Stony Brook. She earned a shot at playing Divison I basketball, and it looked like things would be smooth sailing from there.

Redshirt senior guard Miranda Jenkins (No. 14, above) looks to sink a basket in a Stony Brook Women’s Basketball game against Saint Peter’s on Nov. 14, 2014. The turmoil Jenkins has experienced has only strengthened her resolve to win as the Seawolves chase a title. HEATHER CANNON/THE STATESMAN

However, things took a turn for the worse during the Seawolves’ first scrimmage before Jenkins’ freshman year.

The guard tore her ACL and missed the entire 2011-2012 season. Jenkins was forced to watch from the bench, a role that her former head coach Beth O’Boyle said she embraced enthusiastically, despite the physical anguish and mental pain of not being able to be on the basketball court and the team’s 4-26 record.

“The way she was on the bench, she was still very vocal and very supportive of her teammates,” O’Boyle, former Stony Brook head coach and current Virginia Commonwealth head coach, said. “And we didn’t have to push her to go to rehab, she was in there every day.”

After a year of rehab, Jenkins finally took the court for Stony Brook in November of 2012.

“Once I finally hit the floor, it was more of a reflection of, ‘Wow, I got back to where I needed to be’,” Jenkins said.

Although she was physically healthy, the mental hurdles of  playing again proved difficult.

“I was always nervous about getting hurt again,” Jenkins said. “Or I wouldn’t be satisfied with the way [my knee] healed because I was aching at times getting used to playing basketball again.”

The following year, Jenkins’ role on the team expanded greatly, as did the Seawolves’ overall success. She played in 30 games and helped lead Stony Brook to a 24-win season—two years after winning only four games.

“That season was my most memorable because we were doubted so much,” Jenkins said. “That’s the best memory because it was one of my best years since I’ve been here. Everything was just happiness.”

That was when she would have to summon the courage to persevere again.

Jenkins tore her right patella tendon in Stony Brook’s America East semifinal win over New Hampshire, which forced her to miss the championship game against Albany and Women’s National Invitational Tournament matchup against Michigan.

Knocked down again, she had another grueling off-season to look forward to in her quest to get back up once more.

“Even seeing her come back from the ACL and then seeing the difference with the [patella] injury, even seeing how she dealt with those was so different,” senior forward Alyssa Coiro said. “Freshman year, she was coming back a little slower. With the [patella] injury, she was just back to business.”

Injuries were not a problem last year under new head coach Caroline McCombs. Jenkins played in all 31 of Stony Brook’s games. There were no signs of fatigue on either surgically repaired knee.

“I would say she was better than normal,” Coiro said.

Now that she is in her final year at Stony Brook, Jenkins continues to channel her energy on the court. She has moved past her injuries and is ready for one final shot at making a run with the Seawolves. In terms of motivation, she has plenty.

She has not and never will forget her brother’s memory.

“Every season I dedicate to him,” Jenkins said. “To finish the game he didn’t get to finish. And he would be more than happy to see me play. He’s more the reason I play basketball.”

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