Last year was one Michaela Sokolich-Beatson would rather forget. After two ruptured Achilles she’s now gone for her first run, but at the heart of her recovery was admitting she wasn’t OK.

Mystics vice-captain Michaela Sokolich-Beatson has one simple piece of advice for anyone going through a tough time at the moment – “don’t compare”.

The Silver Ferns defender endured one of the most heart-breaking sports stories of 2020 as she ruptured her left Achilles tendon in October just weeks after returning from the long recovery from rupturing her right Achilles in January.

But the 24-year-old with a wise head on those young shoulders says you simply can’t compare what you’re going through to someone else in a similar situation.

“Don’t compare to other people. Even if you’re going through the same thing. It doesn’t mean it’s exactly the same or you’re feeling it the same.

“The advice I’ve been given is that no two rehabs are the same, not even for the same body part for the same person. My two rehabs are worlds apart.

“I just keep thinking oh but last time … and I find myself looking 10 steps ahead because I know what to expect. Now I’m running, I just want netball, netball, netball.”

Sokolich-Beatson learnt this lesson the hard way thinking the mental side of her recovery from her second Achilles rupture would be just like the first.

“The biggest challenge was identifying that I’m not OK. Once I identified that, I had to tell other people that it wasn’t mentally going to be as easy as last time. The hardest thing was accepting that.”

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She got a good support crew around her including her Mum AJ and Dad Keith, her partner Logan and a great group of friends.

“That’s the heart of what keeps me going now – having people who check in on me. I would have been bogged down by the challenges of facing it alone but now I’ve reached out it makes it a lot easier. A problem shared is a problem halved and that’s exactly how it feels.”

Realising she needed help and reaching out have been at the centre of her recovery, as has her strong Croatian heritage.

“I have a lot of strong and staunch people in my life. My Granddad was a very staunch Croatian man and so is my Mum and my Auntie.”

She needed all that staunchness to push through the tough times and reach a major milestone in her rehabilitation this week – her first actual run since the second rupture just over four months ago.

“I felt like a baby giraffe,” she says of her first beach run after only being allowed to run until then on a machine that takes around 50% of your body weight away and makes you feel “like you’re running on air.”

The former New Zealand under-21 captain is now teaching physical education and health a day a week at her old school Whangaparaoa College, after finishing her degree last year. That’s helped keep her mind off her rehab, and the local beaches have been her happy place.

“Every time I’m in the water I feel so free because I’m still walking with a bit of a limp and in pain. I couldn’t even dream of jumping until I got in the water.”

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Sadly for Mystics fans, the fleet-footed Sokolich-Beatson won’t be out on court this season but she’ll be setting the standards from the sideline in her vice-captaincy role.

“The main thing for me will be driving our standards. We’ve got a very mature group who are able to quickly change what’s happening and I’m really excited about what they can do.

“All the players we’ve recruited this year fit really nicely into the team and bring strong combinations.”

You can tell by the passion in her voice that while this year has hopefully been the toughest she will ever endure in her sporting career, she won’t be kept away from her beloved netball for too much longer.

“I think there’s a different side of me that comes out when I play netball. I enjoy putting my body on the line for my team-mates and emptying the tank. I just miss being out there.”


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