Injury to Senior Micah Sanders Felt by Entire Basketball Team


Micah helping at Salem Hoops Project

We can’t begin to understand why injuries in sports happen at the worst time. An athlete puts in hours of hard work to become the best athlete he or she can possibly be. All it takes is one time whether in practice or in a game – basketball, football, baseball, etc. No question about it – very disappointing. I tell you with pleasure that this athlete responded in the most positive way imaginable.

Micah Sanders is the son of Denny and Linda. He also has a sister, Hannah. Growing up in a middle-income-class neighborhood, he used to play whiffle ball and throw snowballs with his friends. He says those things kind of went away as he got into high school. The environment he grew up in was pretty calm – no real trouble.

“I’ve lived in this neighborhood my entire life – grew up in a Christian family. I attended Yoshikai Elementary School and Adams Stephens Middle School,” Micah said.

He plays Post for the McKay High School Royal Scots – Central Valley Conference in Salem, Oregon. McKay was off to their best start in years. The 2013-2014 basketball season was shining at the start with a record of 7 – 0 including a win against number-two-ranked Sheldon of Eugene.

McKay is a school populated with different nationalities – very diverse. Micah grew up around different cultures – especially the Hispanic culture. Out of 1,837 students, there are 61.4% Hispanics, 25.3% White, and 13.3% Asian/Black students currently attending McKay High School.

“I think it’s a good thing – I like diversity. I do believe that cultures affect us on how we react. In high school we are all in the same situation. We do just fine. We joke around sometimes but never anything serious,” Micah said.

Micah first learned about basketball when he was two or three years old. His dad played in a church league. Micah would watch and learn – he eventually started liking the game. He kept thinking about playing basketball and couldn’t wait to get on the court. His parents signed him up to play in a Boys and Girls Club league.

“I played at the Boys and Girls Club until I got to middle school. I remember always looking forward to the two practices a week and the Saturday games – I really loved it. I never played for an AAU tournament team,” Micah said.

Micah improved tremendously since his sophomore year. He trained with Matt Espinoza (Noza)  . He picked up quickly on several basketball skills – especially his accuracy in shooting the basketball. In my opinion, he’s one of the best shooters on the team – he’d be one of my picks to go to the free-throw line.

One of the most exciting games McKay has played thus far has been against the Sheldon Irish in Eugene, Oregon. There were several lead changes the entire night and every time a basket was made the crowd roared! Sheldon was a talented squad. Micah was one of the reasons McKay was competing well. He seemed to hit a three-point shot when we needed it or a fifteen-foot jumper to prevent Sheldon from making a run. His rebounding was huge – the final score was McKay 57, Sheldon 51.

Micah along with Dillon James, Jacob Brustad, Jorge Garibay, Isaiah Montana, Lorenzo Sterling, and Brandon Lao made up a solid squad of seniors with talent. During the Christmas break McKay was hit hard with injuries starting with Isaiah – a tooth injury, fractured and dislocated finger, and a shoulder injury. Then more players were injured – Jacob with a strained knee and Jorge with a sprained ankle. The bench had to step up (George Smith, Kris Williams, Sam Harris, and Trevyn Roberts) but it wasn’t enough, McKay dropped two games – beating Crater, but losing to North Medford and South Medford at the Abby’s Christmas Classic.

As players had a chance to heal up a bit, McKay was facing Canby at home on January 3rd. Isaiah had a taped-up finger and a weak shoulder. Jorge had a sore and taped ankle. At least they were back and good enough to give it a go. Canby was tough and the game went into overtime. Dillon, one of McKay’s best players, fouled out. But McKay still had Micah in overtime.

I remember watching the play halfway into the overtime. A Canby guard shot the ball and it bounced off the rim. Micah jumped up in the crowd battling for the rebound. As he came down, he felt a blow to the outside of his knee followed by a pop that he’d never heard before. He went down with excruciating pain – the entire gym went silent and the trainer ran across the floor immediately. His knee had popped out of the socket. McKay not only lost in overtime, but they lost a key player for an undetermined amount of time.

“I was so depressed and shocked after that happened. I almost passed out in the locker room. It was tough and there was nothing I could do. Instead of pouting I stayed positive. My teammates encouraged me a great deal,” Micah said.

After seeing the doctor, the diagnosis was a torn MCL (Medial Collateral Ligament – inside band on the knee). The good news, no cartilage tear or ACL tear. The trainer had better news than the doctor according to Micah. He will definitely be out for an undetermined amount of time – possibly the season. My prayers go out for Micah to return, but it’s in God’s hands.

“Micah has done everything he could to become a better player throughout the last three years that I have known him. It was hard to see his season come to an end, but I have been impressed with the role he has taken on since then. He has been a true leader for our team,” Assistant Coach Matt Espinoza said.

Micah has high hopes to return to the court by the end of league play. With his attitude I have no doubt it could happen. But for now he’s not just sitting around the house. He is supporting his teammates during practices and games. He gets up off the bench and gives pointers to help out. He’s been around the league a long time and knows some of the opponents well – his knowledge is valuable and an important factor.

“Micah is the ultimate teammate. He did all of the little things well on the floor. The biggest asset he brings to the team is his leadership. Even with his injury he’s still bringing that to the team,” Head Coach Dean Sanderson said.

Micah’s sister, Hannah, was never that supportive of her brother previous to his senior year. She would show up to his games but was not that thrilled about being there. During his senior year her attitude changed drastically – she had much more enthusiasm.

“I’m amazed at how well he’s handled everything. I’m more supportive of him now than I ever was before – I’m very proud of my brother,” Hannah said.

Micah is an honor student and maintains a 4.0 GPA. He likes taking AP classes although McKay doesn’t offer many. He is blessed with a good memory that retains what he learns well. He focuses on doing the best he can as far as homework or whatever needs to be done in class. Before taking tests, he reviews criteria that might not be as clear. His plain and simple words, I just don’t accept Bs.

This young man has goals. One is to graduate high school with a 4.0 GPA. He also believes that his team can win a CVC League Title and play in post season. A trip to the Moda Center (formerly known as the Rose Garden) is definitely not out of reach. As a senior he would love to be one of the Valedictorians at graduation. Micah feels his senior class is a great one and can leave an inspiring impression for the underclassmen.

What some people might not know about Micah is his involvement doing mission work through Salem Alliance Church – he takes great pride in his faith. Mexico is a country he visited in the past – he helped build houses for people in need. This summer he plans to do mission work in Africa (Burkina Faso) – he’ll be there for two weeks building church roofs.

I personally will pray for a speedy recover for Micah Sanders, he is a young man that has set a great example for young people to follow – not just in sports, but in life as well.

Micah, what are some of your hobbies?

I like playing drums and helping out in things like the Salem Hoops Project. I enjoy the outdoors – hiking and stuff. I’m not a big fan of video games but I do listen to Christian music.

Who is your favorite NBA team?

Portland Trailblazers of course!

Who is your favorite college team?

I like rooting for the underdog. I like colleges like Butler and Davidson.

What are your goals past high school?

I plan on applying at Whitworth and Northwest Nazarene. At this point I don’t plan on pursuing sports. I would really like to see what colleges have to offer without spending a lot of time on a sport. For a career I really like Kinesiology (assessing patient’s health by testing their muscles, etc.).