Elizabeth Benedict has nine screws, a metal plate and a tight wire rope tied around the tibia and fibula of her left leg.
It’s not how she imagined her college athletic career would go, but she wouldn’t trade it for anything.
The former 2007 North Forsyth graduate and girls basketball standout left for Army in West Point, N.Y. on a basketball scholarship, but injuries derailed her basketball aspirations.
She suffered a spiral fracture of her left fibula on a drive to the basket a few minutes into the sixth game of her senior season against Air Force. The hard foul ended her basketball playing career on November 23.
"I was up in the air going up for a shot and came down funny," Benedict said. "I knew something was wrong immediately once I did it. I had never broken a bone before in my life, but I knew something was wrong.
"Actually, I don’t want to have bragging rights on it, but it was a little bit worse than [Louisville basketball player Kevin Ware’s injury]. His was a clean break. Even though it was grotesque and came out of his skin and whatnot…"
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, "a spiral fracture is caused by a twisting force. The result is a spiral-shaped fracture line about the bone, like a staircase."
That wasn’t the first time she had missed games due to injury. During the summer of 2008, she dislocated her right shoulder just before the basketball season started during a grappling combat exercise, forcing her to leave Army for nearly a year to rehabilitate her shoulder.
"I hurt my shoulder to the point where I couldn’t compete militarily or academically at the academy," Benedict said. "It was just in my best interest to leave.
"I could have stayed. They gave me the option to stay, but being injured at West Point is different as an athlete because you lose a year of eligibility because West Point is a four-year institution and there’s no way to stretch that out. So in order for me to maintain my eligibility at West Point, I had to leave for the rest of the semester and a half, basically. I wanted to return in the following summer so that I would have four years of college basketball ahead of me."
Benedict returned to the basketball court in 2009-’13 and contributed for the Lady Knights. She averaged just over 22 minutes per game as the point guard and scored in 21 of the team’s 30 games. She paced Army with a career-high 14 points against rival Navy.
"I didn’t have anything statistically that was amazing," Benedict said. "I was a standard role player on the team, but being a point guard is a pretty important responsibility all at the same time."
She served as a team captain her senior year, and although she only played in six games before the leg injury, she found a way to help motivate and guide her teammates. She was able to travel with the team in December and her encouragement paid off.
The Lady Knights finished the season 22-9, including an 11-3 record in conference play, and were the Patriot League regular season champions. Their record also garnered a first-ever spot in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
"[I] absolutely did," Benedict said. "I’m the team captain, so that’s my job to be there no matter what, whether I’m playing or not."
Her team-first spirit earned her the Maggie Dixon Award her senior year. The award honors "an individual that embodies…passion, determination and a winning attitude."
Benedict graduated from West Point on Saturday with a degree in psychology and an engineering track is in environmental engineering. She plans to join the army as a transportation officer after training at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.