St. Petersburg, Fla. -- Don’t let her size fool you. St. Pete High sophomore Ava Stoller is as tough as they come.
“You got some people who are naturally athletic, some people have natural skill, I think with Ava she just has natural hustle, said AJ Williams, Ava’s personal basketball trainer.
The 5-foot-6 guard is willing to put her body on the line every single possession without hesitation.
“I’m not afraid to get on the ground. I’m not afraid to fight for the ball. I’ll take anyone to the basket, play defense. The hustle aspect is always there. I just do whatever I have to do to win the game.
After an impressive freshman season where she led the team in scoring, Ava looked poised for a breakout sophomore campaign. She got off to a fast start averaging 32 points per game in her first three games. But in December, her season came to a screeching halt during a soccer game.
“I was subbing for a goalie who was out of town and I’m usually a defender or forward. It was a free kick from the left side, and when I went to punch it out, I got hit from the side. I immediately fell and couldn’t breathe. I thought I had the wind knocked out of me and then I started to really feel it. I finished the game, went home, and then I was like oh this isn’t good.”
Ava went to the emergency room and got a cat scan, which revealed she suffered a stage 4 kidney laceration.
“It was tough,” said Stoller. “Being out made me realize how much I loved the game. I was in bed for two weeks, couldn’t move, couldn’t walk.”
“She’s so tough, when I was texting her and seeing how she was doing, she was making me feel like I was the one in the hospital,” said Williams.
Doctors originally told Ava her season was over. But after spending six weeks on the sidelines, she was given the green light to return to the court.
“I got cleared about a week and a half ago to do training with no physical contact. I was so excited. It’s a little sore sometimes but I’m ready to put the work in and get ready for whatever I can get in and be ready for AAU.
Ava is aiming to re-join the green devils by Feb. 1 just in time for the district tournament.
“I was really hoping to win a district championship this year and take my team maybe even further than that, just push us as far as we could go, just continue to build the team.
Ava Stoller’s injury was a minor setback. Now, she’s ready for a major comeback.