Two student athletes – Julia Ball (North Haven HS) and Avery Atkinson (Branford HS) – are the recipients of the 2023 SCC “Comeback Player of the Year” awards. Both students suffered severe injuries, yet were able to overcome them to become outstanding role models in their respective schools.
A corporate sponsor of the Southern Connecticut Conference (SCC), Connecticut Orthopaedics offered a Comeback Player of the Year Scholarship for student-athletes who participated in an interscholastic sport during the 2022-2023 academic year and showed great leadership both on and off the field after their severe injury.
Coaches and school’s athletic directors nominated these student-athletes after they each suffered an unfortunate injury that prohibited them from playing for their high school teams. Both will receive a financial scholarship to be used for their college education.
“This is our 13th year awarding student-athletes from the SCC with scholarships,” said Susan Bader, CEO of Connecticut Orthopaedics. “Our goal is to acknowledge student-athletes who have overcome the challenges of an injury and, through hard work and determination, become positive role models for their fellow teammates. As sports medicine specialists, we understand intimately what it takes to recover from an injury and return to playing sports at a high level.”
“Many thanks to the doctors and staff at Connecticut Orthopaedics for their support of the SCC and these scholarships,” explained SCC Commissioner Al Carbone. “Our league has many outstanding student-athletes who excel in the classroom and on the playing fields; but it is a tremendous gesture to recognize traits like courage, perseverance and selflessness.”
2022-23 SCC/Connecticut Orthopaedics Comeback Players of the Year
JULIA BALL, North Haven HS (competitive cheerleading)
A member of the Nighthawks’ basketball squad, Julia suffered a season-ending ACL injury just seven games into her junior year. A true leader on and off the court, Julia worked tirelessly through the mental and physical aspect of the injury and rehabilitation to return to the court this past winter.
She served as the team’s captain and was a key part of the team’s outstanding 18-7 final record that helped the team reach the Class L state quarterfinal round. Julia led the team in scoring (19 ppg) and was named All-SCC First Team and GametimeCT.com’s All-State Third Team.
Julia will attend Roger Williams College in the fall.
AVERY ATKINSON, Branford HS (basketball/outdoor track & field)
Avery played football during this freshman year at Branford and following the season was diagnosed with “Bilateral L4 Spondulolysis,” which is a fracture of the L4 vertebrae, on both sides.
After months of healing and physical therapy, he was cleared to limited activities (but no more football) but was allowed to play basketball and run track. He served as captain of the Hornets’ basketball squad this winter and is captaining the outdoor track & field team where he competes in the 300 meter hurdles and javelin.
Avery will attend Coastal Carolina in the fall and major in business.