By Chris Allen Brown/Associate Editor
Leah Strain didn’t have to continue playing basketball following her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear during the summer before the 2015 season.
Strain, one of the most prolific prep basketball players in Alabama history, could’ve hung up her shoes and ankle braces to focused all of her time on being a nurse or member of the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority.
She could’ve said that’s it, I’m done.
But she didn’t. She continued to fight.
Strain fought out of the shadows of her older sister, Courtney, who owns the state mark for career points.
Strain fought the expectations of being an incoming freshman after helping Woodland High to its second consecutive state championship.
Strain fought the lengthy rehab that came with the torn knee ligament.
Strain fought to be see time of the floor for JSU head coach Rick Pietri.
Strain fought to be Leah Strain. She wasn’t going to give up and let people define her legacy. She took it upon herself to do that.
When Strain throws on the red-and-white No. 2 Jacksonville State uniform over her 5-foot-4 frame Wednesday night against Belmont, it’ll be the 82nd game of her Gamecock career. It was a collegiate career that saw her score her first points during Jacksonville State’s upset win against SEC foe Alabama on Nov. 18, 2014.
During the 2014-15 season, Strain set a career high in points with a 14-point outing against Mercer. Against the Bears, she went 5 of 10 from the field, including three 3-point baskets, and dished out six assists. For her performance, Strain was named the Ohio Valley Conference Freshman of the Week.
Off the court, Strain earned 2014-15 OVC Medal of Honor and OVC Commissioner’s Honor Roll status after finishing the academic year with a 4.0 grade point average.
After redshirting during the 2015-16 season to rehab her ACL injury, Strain returned for the 2016-17 year.
She scored 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting against Brewton-Parker, before turning in a season-high 11 points in 18 minutes against Nicholls State. She also scored nine points in 10 minutes in the final game of the season.
As a redshirt-junior this season, Strain has played 373 minutes and scored at least one point in 22 of 27 games heading into JSU’s home finale against the Bruins.
Strain will be remembered more for her resiliency than scoring while at JSU.