Players share bond through injury 

Naugatuck senior Alyssa Peterson, left, suffered a torn graft meniscus in her right knee versus Wolcott on Jan. 16. –FILE PHOTO

The pain was all too familiar for Wolcott junior Mary Louis Barnes when she saw Naugatuck senior Alyssa Peterson go down with an injury.

Barnes is working her way back from dual knee injuries, tearing the ACL, MCL and meniscus in her right knee in eighth grade and re-injuring the knee during a bike accident on vacation, forcing her to miss her entire freshman and sophomore seasons.

“It’s hard, I don’t think people really get it, but it’s hard,” Barnes said. “You have to put in a lot of work. The first time was six to seven months of recovery, going to physical therapy. The second time was about nine to 10 months, and now I have to wear a brace to play.”

Peterson was working her own way back after tearing the ACL in each of her knees, making steady progress over the course of the season. But while she was boxing out during a 53-40 win over Wolcott on Jan. 16, Peterson suffered an injury to her right knee. An MRI on Jan. 20 revealed a torn graft meniscus in her right knee, ending her season and Naugy career.

Naugatuck coach Gail Cheney said that it was “not fair” that a Peterson had another obstacle thrown at her.

“She was getting more minutes as the year went on,” Cheney said. “She was gaining confidence and had a killer move during a win against Watertown (on Jan. 12).”

Peterson has received well wishes from her friends, family and teammates, and more. Barnes reached out on social media and former Naugatuck football, baseball and swimming star Branden Heller, who suffered a labrum injury during a swim season, sent her a note of encouragement.

“I am absolutely heartbroken that this happened again,” Peterson said via text message after learning the results of the MRI. “But I’ve been through this before and I have to keep believing that everything happens for a reason.”

She has a kindred spirit in Barnes, who had an optimistic message for anyone going through a long-term injury.

“Just know that there’s people out there to support you, and it gets better,” Barnes said. “People come out stronger, that’s my perspective.”