Mikayla Sites has always had a passion for athletics, but she doesn’t let it consume her.
The Cashmere soccer and basketball player has been able to balance her devotion to sports with other interests in her life. She’s thinking about pursuing a career in nursing, dental hygiene or education “because I love working with other people and little kids,” she said. “I’m really social. I love people.”
Don’t be mistaken, though — the Bulldogs senior loves winning, too. But it definitely seems like she’s got things in proper perspective.
Ironically, maybe that’s part of the reason why she’s such a good athlete.
“I just feel like sports aren’t … they are important to me, I love them, I’ve spent my whole life doing them,” she said last Thursday after the Cashnere soccer team’s practice. “But they’re not as important as I thought (they) were. They’re not my life. When I realized that when I couldn’t do sports … I don’t know. I realized that relationships in my life are more important that how (well) I can play a sport.”
Sites was forced to miss her junior season on the soccer pitch with an injury to her left foot that eventually required surgery and rehabilitation.
At some point during her sophomore year, Sites, a starting defender on a Cashmere team that advanced to the 1A state championship game, sustained the injury. “We don’t know how or when it occurred,” said Cashmere soccer coach Dennis Tronson.
At first, it was thought that she severely sprained her ankle, but the injury didn’t get better with treatment.
She finished the soccer season and that winter played on the Bulldogs’ basketball team, but her foot continued to bother her. In the summer of 2012, she tried to participate in the soccer team’s first couple of practice sessions, but she walked off the field, crying in pain. “I can’t do this,” she told Tronson.
Eventually, a magnetic resonance imaging test revealed two maladies — a cyst and a stress fracture.
Last September, she underwent surgery to fix both conditions, with a metal screw being driven into her foot. She was glad to have finally fixed the problem, but the timing of the surgery was awful — she was forced to miss the entire 2012 soccer season.
She tried to ignore all of the ‘what-if’ scenarios that came into her mind as best she could, but that wasn’t easy.
During last year’s state tournament, “she became really withdrawn,” Tronson said, “She was saying to herself, ‘What difference would I have made?’ After our semifinal (loss to Seattle Christian), she told me, ‘If I had played, they wouldn’t have scored.’ That’s the kind of confidence she has in her ability.”
Her rehabilitation process proved to be frustrating as well.
“I didn’t know if it was going to be season-ending (injury), like it was, or if it was going to (keep me out) a couple weeks,” she said. “It was hard to mentally stay positive.”
She made it back for the basketball season, but she was limited for most of the campaign, not ready to log extensive minutes. “Coming back, I was so excited; I (thought), ‘I’ll be right back (to my old self).’ But I wasn’t. At all,” she said. “It was definitely irritating and frustrating at first.”
By the start of this soccer season, thought, her foot felt good, and she was ready to go.
“I’m just glad it’s over now,” she said. “The first game back felt emotionally like… I can’t really explain it. It was the best feeling because taking almost a whole year off was mentally draining But it made me want to get that much better, just because I couldn’t for that long. I was excited.”
Sites has been dealing with an injury to her right ankle sustained in the Bulldogs’ Sept. 26 game against Wenatchee, but is now close to 100 percent healthy and playing her best soccer of the season, according to Tronson; moving back and forth between the forward and defender positions, she’s tallied two goals and six assists so far this year.
Cashmere (15-1 overall, 14-0 Caribou Trail League) won its eighth straight league title and will begin postseason play Saturday.
“(Mikayla) gives us balance,” Tronson said. “That was something we didn’t have last year. She can play anywhere on the field at a high level. She’s one of the big reasons why we’re at where we’re at.”