At 16 years old, Naysha Trent has already been through more surgeries than poor-luck professional athletes in the twilight of their careers.
The most recent was to repair a torn ACL in her right knee and it wiped out her entire junior season with the Riverhead girls basketball team. Before that were surgeries on her shoulder and toe. Her first year on varsity as an eighth-grader was disrupted by spinal surgery.
It’s been an arduous journey back for Trent, who is hoping to put her past misfortune behind her as she gets back on the hardwood. She’s gotten her first game action with the Blue Waves in the Town of Brookhaven Summer League under varsity coach Dave Spinella.
“No one knew me from last year,” Trent said. “Me coming back, no one knows what to expect, not even me.”
The Blue Waves lost in overtime Monday night against Sachem North at Sachem East High School, 35-32, in their third game of the summer. Trent scored eight points in the loss.
“It was just frustrating,” Trent said of the rehab process. “There are things that I know I can do that I can’t really do because I’m scared I’m going to pop something out. My shoulder still pops out. So when I throw I can’t throw so hard. I’m just so limited and scared. I know I can do so much more.”
Last year Trent likely would have been a starter on Riverhead’s team that made a historic run to the state semifinals. She never got a chance.
In the fall she decided to try out for the soccer team. The first tryout she fell awkwardly and knew something wasn’t quite right. She felt her knee pop out, but then it popped right back in, she said. It was swollen for a week and the pain subsided soon after.
“One day, I forget what I was doing, it just collapsed again,” Trent said.
At that point she knew it was real bad. She needed another surgery and her chance to team up with the Blue Waves’ big three of Jalyn Brown, Melodee Riley and Shanice Allen was gone.
As basketball season began last winter, Trent showed up for practices each day fully aware she wasn’t going to be playing.
“I had to go because that’s my team,” she said.
Even though it was difficult to have to sit, Trent said she still enjoyed being along for the ride as the Blue Waves embarked on a memorable season that included county and Long Island championships.
The worst part was, as the Blue Waves began their playoff run, Trent had just been cleared to return to basketball. But there wasn’t enough time for her to get in games to be eligible for postseason play.
So even as she got healthy, she still could only watch.
“I could warm up with them,” Trent said. “I just couldn’t play in the games.”
Trent showed off glimpses Tuesday of what will make her a key player for Riverhead when the varsity season begins next winter. She had several aggressive drives to the basket and was able to draw contact to get to the line. Late in the second half she drove baseline and pulled up for a short jumper that she sank.
Gaining her confidence and rhythm back will take time.
“I was a little rusty but I’m coming along,” she said. “It’s fun, though. I hate sitting out.”
While the Blue Waves lost three starters to graduation off last year’s team, they do return Allen and Kaila- Riane Nazario, who was a key contributor off the bench last season. Neither girl was with the team for Monday’s game.
Allen, who has over 1,000 career points going into her senior year, is playing AAU ball this summer.
Allen and Trent are cousins.
“That’s my best friend,” Trent said.
While the summer league is a chance for Trent to get back into the flow of basketball, for other girls it’s about showing the coaches what they can bring to the court for when the varsity season begins.
“I think we have four or five JV [players] coming up,” Trent said.
This summer Trent said she’s only playing with the Riverhead summer league team as tries to ease back into game action. And in the fall, there won’t be any soccer tryouts this time.
“I’m just going to stay cool and wait for the season,” she said.