From Southsider to World Traveler Pt. 1

By Kevin Messenger | January 21, 2013
This is Part I of a two-part story on Katie Douglas’ return from ankle surgery. Return to for Part II later this week.

The Indiana Fever’s local Southsider has gone from hometown girl at Perry Meridian High School to a worldly, cultured jet-setter with homes in Indy, Florida and Greece – the native home of her husband and his family. But while Katie Douglas has made overseas travel and overseas living a fabric of her being, she is enjoying Indianapolis this winter – her first without playing overseas in more than a decade.

Fever fans remember the excruciating left ankle injury she sustained during the opening quarter of Indiana’s conference finals game at Connecticut. Pursuing a rebound, she rolled her ankle off the side of Tan White’s foot, crumpling in pain to the Mohegan Sun Arena floor. Indiana was leading 12-4 when she left with 4:47 on the clock and, rather than fade in her absence, the Fever put its foot on the gas pedal and dispatched the Sun 87-71 to reach the WNBA Finals.

For the Fever, an amazing week of WNBA Finals action catapulted the franchise to its first championship. But while Douglas was an active part of the celebration, her participation was bittersweet. The first significant injury of her 12-year All-Star career had her watching from the sidelines. Her only appearance in her fourth WNBA Finals appearance was a three-second cameo appearance in front of the home crowd after the championship was on ice.

With that setting in mind, she spent time with discussing the week of activity she still calls “surreal.” Here are her thoughts on these timely moments from that week.

Injured on the floor at Connecticut
“It’s bad. I know it’s bad. I feel it’s bad. It’s excruciating.”

Lying in the training room at Connecticut, hoping to come back to the game
“I was thinking, ‘I know this was bad, but I thought if I could get 5 minutes of composure just to settle it down (I might have a chance).’ I was talking to Todd (Champlin, Fever trainer) telling him, ‘take off my shoe, tape it up. Tape it tight.’ I was screaming at him, ‘I want to play, I want to play. Just take it up, please.’ I was crying. I was trying to insist and persist but he knew medically it wasn’t possible.”

Being transported in an ambulance, knowing the injury was indeed worse than she’d hoped
“I think I was just in shock. I could tell it was bad just by the look in the eyes of the doctors and trainers as they were trying to analyze it. What was really going through my mind was that my ankle was in so much pain, I needed something for it. It felt like my ankle was hammered. The guy in the ambulance was talking to me and Rick Fuson (PS&E chief operating officer, who rode in the ambulance) was giving me updates from the game, but all I could think about was my throbbing ankle and I needed something for the pain.”

Back in Indianapolis, watching her team play in Minneapolis
“It was extremely hard not to be able to fly and be on the bench with the team. But from a medical perspective and from the team’s standpoint, my best interest if I ever wanted a chance to play in the Finals was to stay at home without flying and swelling. In Indianapolis, I was either at rehab or mostly on bed-rest. Staying in Indy was a hard thing to do, but in my best interest. It was thrilling to watch Game 1. It was a weird thing to watch my team play on TV and me not be there but it was an awesome game. We had a bunch of people over to support me who knew I was going through a tough time. I was just trying to do whatever I could at rehab. It was a tough injury and the thing that was not on my side was time.”

Greeting her team upon their return to Bankers Life Fieldhouse
“[My teammates] were awesome. I was constantly in touch with all my teammates while they were in Minnesota through text and phone calls. Just the simple hugs and embraces from them meant so much when I saw them. They were excited when they got back and it was great to be re-united with them. It felt like they were gone for weeks. I felt like at least I was able to be a veteran again, if only by voice.”

Watching the team from the bench in Game 3, with a 30-point lead
“The whole thing was surreal. The whole experience was surreal from the time I got hurt at Connecticut, actually. I couldn’t believe I got hurt for what was my fourth Finals [appearance]. I was saying to myself, ‘I can’t believe that we’re winning by 30 against the defending champs. What is going on? This is crazy!’ Zellous was going off (31 points). I felt like we couldn’t miss, it was like the basket was just huge. The crowd was electrifying. It was kind of a surreal moment to watch the team go up 2-1.”

Checking into the game with 3 seconds left in Game 4
“Coach came down and said, ‘Katie, go in.’ It was so loud, I said, ‘what?’ ‘Go check in,’ she said [in drawn-out syllables to mock Lin Dunn’s accent]. It was an unbelievable moment just to get up to the scorer’s table and hear the ovation from the crowd, to hear their love and support and appreciation. To actually get out there and be recognized was a very special moment.”

Celebrating and accepting the trophy after the championship was won
“Unbelievable. I’ve been in the situation three times prior, being a part of the other team walking off to the locker room with an enormous amount of disappointment. To be celebrating, and celebrating on our home court, was overdue. Very overdue.”


Check back for Part II of the Katie Douglas feature to learn how she is spending her offseason in Indianapolis.