Avery Koch stood in the corner of Brownstown Central’s basketball court her freshman year, wide open for a pass that could lead to a bucket.
A teammate threw Koch a pass from half-court, it was a bit overthrown and Koch had to jump up to reach it.
When Koch landed, she felted a pop in her right knee. But the freshman just got back up and continued to play. It wasn’t until she went up for a layup a couple of possessions later and got fouled when she started to feel a lot of pain in that right knee.
Still, Koch thought she just popped the kneecap out of place or there might be some swelling and she’ll carry on.
What she didn’t expect was the doctors to tell her she has a torn ACL and will be out for six months.
“At first, it was definitely difficult,” Koch says four years later, reflecting on the incident.
But after having surgery and talking with her doctors, Koch knew her knee was fine. It was all mind over matter at that point, she says.
She worked to get mobility back in her knee, and she actually made a speedy recovery, coming back in four months. Koch was healed by the spring of her freshman year, but she didn’t participate in track and field that year.
She returned to the courts in June.
In November of her sophomore season, Koch was playing on junior varsity and the Braves needed a big stop against Scottsburg, which led by two late in the ballgame. Koch was putting pressure on the ball at half-court, trying to create a turnover. As her opponent crossed over, Koch tried to stay with her, but when she planted her left leg, her knee popped.
This time, Koch knew exactly what it was.
“I knew I tore my ACL,” she said.
A second torn ACL in as many years for Koch, but this time it was the opposite knee.
“The second time around, it was definitely hard,” she said. “I just wanted to play and get a full season of a sport in. It was definitely defeating knowing I retore my ACL and I had to go back through that process.”
But Koch took on the challenge. She returned in about four months once again, and this time, she joined the track and field team the spring of her sophomore year and competed in the discus and shot put.
She has been throwing since she was in fourth grade, and despite the legs being an important part of the motion — “Your legs are super important. Honestly, I think you use your legs more than you use your arms when you throw” — Koch never felt nervous throwing post-injury.
She had success her sophomore year in track, so much so that she would continue doing it for the rest of her high school career.
Despite the injuries on the hardwood, basketball was something Koch didn’t want to give up. She played varsity her junior and senior seasons as the team won a lot of games, including a semistate appearance in 2020.
“We had a solid team,” she said. “We worked really well together.”
Her junior track season was canceled due to COVID-19, but Koch wanted to look into throwing at the collegiate level. Even though she couldn’t be recruited or take visits during the pandemic last year, Koch filled out these recruiting questionnaires to schools she was interested in.
She heard back from a few and ultimately decided on Belmont University.
“I really liked their nursing program. That was one of main things is that academically, they were a really good fit for me,” Koch said. “Athletically, I really liked the girls, and the coach is super nice. During the recruiting process, he kept in touch with me weekly. They were interested with me and kept contact with me.”
Koch will be heading there this fall to throw and attend school, where she plans to be there for five years and get her doctorate.
Brownstown Central already held its graduation for the seniors, but there’s still one bit of unfinished business Koch has left to do as a Brave.
Last week, Koch competed at regional at Bloomington High School North. With her first throw of the day, Koch launched the discus 135’3”. It was a personal-best throw for Koch, and it also gave her first place at regional, qualifying her for the state meet for the first time in her career.
Koch is seeded fourth place this Saturday at the state finals, and she is slated to start throwing around 3 p.m.
“I’m hopefully going to keep my seed,” Koch said. “That has been one of my goals. I honestly just want to make it into finals. Go out there and do my best and hopefully go after that.”
Another goal of Koch’s is to break the record at Brownstown Central High School. The record is 138’2”, and Koch’s best was the 135’3” from last Tuesday.
“Just don’t let the nerves get to me this week,” Koch said. “I’ve been super hyped about going to state. The nerves have not hit me yet. I hope I stay not as nervous on Saturday. I can just go out there and do my best.”
One of the big keys to Koch’s success this season has been staying positive on the mental side of things.
As someone who was endured as much as Koch has in her athletic career, she knows the importance of keeping a clear headspace, and that remains the No. 1 priority for her come Saturday.
“It has been really big for me,” she said. “My coaches believe in me, and I know what I’m doing wrong, so I’m able to fix it. Having the know with what I’m doing is really helping with my nerves.”