published Sunday, May 18th, 2014

Ashley McDonald's quick recovery sends her to state

Gordon Lee golfer Ashely McDonald suffered a torn ACL knee injury last fall during a softball game. She's recovered from her injury in about half the time of typical ACL injuries.
Gordon Lee golfer Ashely McDonald suffered a torn ACL knee injury last fall during a softball game. She's recovered from her injury in about half the time of typical ACL injuries.
Photo by David Uchiyama.

Ashley McDonald sprinted down the first-base line after hitting a grounder to third base in a Gordon Lee softball game. The throw to first took the first baseman off the bag and right into McDonald, who immediately felt excruciating pain in her left knee.

"She clipped my hip and I tore my ACL," McDonald said. "I got to come back on senior night."

McDonald and the Lady Trojans later won the state championship.

She'll be competing for another state title Monday after undergoing anterior cruciate ligament surgery in her left knee on Nov. 6.

All of the Georgia state golf tournaments will be held Monday on courses in the greater Augusta area. The Northwest Georgia area will be represented by girls' teams from Gordon Lee, Trion, Calhoun, Gordon Central, Sonoraville and Dalton. Individuals competing include Amber Lewis and Rebekah Wildes of Murray County, Ringgold's Ryann McCuistion, North Murray's Hali Shram and LaFayette's Catie Martin.

But only McDonald returned to playing sports less than four months after knee surgery.

"There was a possibility of me not playing this season," said McDonald, a senior. "The surgeon told me it would be nine months before I did anything again.

"I didn't like that answer."

McDonald didn't wait nine months. She waited three months before returning to the golf course.

"Waiting around, I chipped a putted a whole bunch just waiting to be able to take a full swing," McDonald said. "I didn't like the wait."

The extra time chipping and putting has paid off. McDonald's low score for 18 holes before the surgery was a 92. She broke 80 with a 79 during the Class A sectional tournament earlier this month.

"I went out there and did my best," she said. "I just had a good day. I was in the zone, and that's after I skulled it over the green on the first hole."

An awful start didn't continue.

"She's done a great job of dealing with all the adversity," Gordon Lee coach Charlie Wiggins said. "She'd get frustrated and keep going."

During the rehabilitation process, McDonald wasn't worried about walking around for nine or 18 holes on her repaired knee. She was worried about about tearing it again by taking a full swing.

"There's a lot of turn on that front leg," she said. "It doesn't take much for it to pop again."

That worry is wearing off even though she walks and plays with a bulky brace. She won't be thinking about it Monday.

"It gives me some problems sometimes," McDonald said. "But now this is the end, so I can make it one more round."

Contact David Uchiyama at or 423-757-6484. Follow him at

about David Uchiyama...

David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...

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