Even though she is yet to officially play an NBL1 West game for the Cockburn Cougars, Jaya Scafidi already feels part of the family after spending 2023 around the group and now can’t wait to hit the floor with the team in 2024.
Scafidi signed on with the Cougars for the 2023 season having moved to Perth from Kalgoorlie after finishing at school to begin her new life at university, but unfortunately her basketball was on hold for 12 months having undergone a knee reconstruction.
She had ruptured her ACL after an impressive performance across 12 games in the 2022 season with the Goldfields Giants offering a glimpse what she would be capable of as she keeps developing by averaging 9.1 points and 4.1 rebounds.
Despite the injury, she still moved to Perth because she felt that would give her access to the best rehabilitation program she could take on, but also to begin her new life and to start studying at uni.
Now she has fully recovered from the knee reconstruction, is back on the court and having been fully embraced already by everyone part of the Cougar Family, she can’t wait to hit the court come the start of the 2024 NBL1 West season.
Having a full pre-season to prepare for return
While nobody ever wants to go through a serious injury and rehab process, Scafidi is now glad with how the timing has worked out and that she didn’t try risking a hurried return to get back playing late in the 2023 season.
What that means is that she now has full trust and confidence in her knee and she’s going to be able to take part in the full pre-season, and be ready to go come the opening night for the 2024 NBL1 West season to make her Cougars debut.
“The timing actually ended up working out pretty well for me in the sense that I probably could have tried to rush back to play late this season, but there just wasn’t a point and it didn’t feel like the right time,” Scafidi said.
“So I ended up getting an extra couple of months of not putting that stress on my knee and now coming into pre-season I will be fully able to take part in everything.
“So I think it’s worked out the best way possible that I’ve had this extra couple of months to get it right and to be confident in it, and now to be able to hit the ground running in the pre-season.”
How is the knee reconstruction recovery going
Going through a rehab on a serious injury like a ruptured ACL is never going to exactly be fun, but Scafidi’s has gone as smoothly as she could have hoped so far and now she is just excited to be back out on the court and feeling good.
“It has gone good. It’s been pretty smooth sailing so far and I’ve played two games back now in the elite comp, and have had no issues at all and the knee is feeling good,” she said.
“I’m still taping it and taking all those precautions and doing the exercises like I have been doing the whole time, but I’ve not had any issues with it so far which is a good sign.”
Coming to Cougars knowing you wouldn’t play in 2023
Scafidi ruptured her ACL back in the 2022 season in Kalgoorlie playing against the Kalamunda Eastern Suns on July 16. From the moment she knew she’d need a knee reconstruction she knew it was unlikely she’d make it back for the 2023 season.
However, when Cougars coach Tyrone Thwaites made it clear he still wanted to recruit her while knowing that, she immediately felt like Cockburn was a club she wanted to call home and she’s never regretted that decision since.
“I did it while I was still playing for the Giants so I missed the last five or so games of the 2022 season and Ty had already messaged me before I did that knowing I was intending on moving to Perth for uni,” Scafidi said.
“So he wanted to see what I was doing with my basketball and if I would possibly move to Cockburn, but then I did it the following week and we ended up playing them in Kal a couple of weeks later.
“I caught up with Ty then and he said that whatever the outcome was with my knee, they would still be keen to have me on board and would help put me through all my rehab.
“For me, knowing that I wouldn’t have that same support and facilities and everything in Kalgoorlie, it made my mind up because I knew if I moved to Perth I would get the best treatment and rehab process that I could.
“As much as it sucked doing my knee and knowing I wouldn’t play for at least 12 months, at least I knew by moving to Perth and being around people who cared about me and wanted to help me, that made it a lot easier.”
Having the support of the club
It was a big move for Scafidi to leave home and move to Perth while undergoing the rehab on her knee and studying at uni for the first time.
She did that while knowing she wouldn’t be able to play basketball for the 2023 NBL1 West season as well, but in the end the way she was made feel so welcome by everyone at the Cougars means she knows she made the right decision.
“I remember speaking to my parents and we originally were thinking that maybe I should stay in Kal for another year just so I could be around my family, and go through the rehab process with them around,” Scafidi said.
“But after having that conversation with Ty it was sort of a no-brainer, and I knew I had to move to Perth and not put my life on hold for 12 months. Just having those facilities and extra support in Perth has definitely made everything so much easier now that I’ve done it.”
Watching the success the team had
Scafidi might not have been able to get out on the court with the Cougars team in 2023 as they went on to create history firstly by finishing the regular season in top spot for the first time, but then going on the claim a maiden championship in the women’s competition.
While not out there with her new teammates, from the moment she first stepped into Wally Hagan Stadium as a Cougars player, Scafidi felt part of the team and she will forever be thankful to her teammates and everyone at the club for that.
“I honestly think that at no point did they ever treat me like I wasn’t part of the team so every step of the way I was excited for the success they were having, and I felt like I was a part of the group,” she said.
“Obviously it’s a little bit bittersweet because I wasn’t out there and the hardest part was knowing that I would never get to play with that exact team and next year there would be some changes to the group like there always is.
“But all the girls really made me feel welcome and I love being around the club. It made going through the rehab a lot easier as well knowing that I could go to basketball and be in a place where I was happy and enjoyed everyone’s company even though I wasn’t playing.”
Settling in to live in Perth
Scafidi has now just about finished her first year studying at uni in Perth and given her degree is in exercise physiology, that’s even helped in her rehab of her knee and just to understand better what the physio is talking about.
“I’m just about to finish my first year at uni this week and am heading into exams after that so I’ve got through it alright,” Scafidi said.
“It’s probably made it a little bit easier because I didn’t have to juggle playing basketball as well so that was one extra thing I didn’t have to worry about, but I like what I’m studying.
“I’m doing exercise physiology and there’s a lot of anatomy stuff and things like that involved with that so I guess having that base understanding does help me understand what the physio is telling me. I can pick up what the physio tells me a lot quicker so in little things like that it definitely does help.”