ELLSWORTH — Life is pretty good right now for Trinity Montigny. After the past month, it’s easy to see why.
On Oct. 27, Montigny ran as part of the Ellsworth girls’ cross-country team that made history when it broke a 40-year state championship drought. Less than a week later, she received a certificate informing her of her impending induction to the National Honor Society. Now, with November winding down, she’s preparing for another season of her favorite sport: basketball.
Yet even though the past few weeks have brought the Ellsworth junior plenty of joy, her road to competing this season has been far from easy. That’s because of an injury she suffered during a workout a month after the Eagles’ 2017-18 basketball season came to an end.
On March 12, Montigny was taking part in a layup line while practicing with some of her teammates. As her turn in line came, Montigny made her approach and laid the ball off the backboard and into the net the same way all basketball players have done thousands of times before. This time, though, she landed awkwardly on her right foot and fell to the ground in pain.
“Right when it happened, I was like, ‘This is not good,’” Montigny said. “I didn’t know what exactly I did at that moment, but it hurt so much. I could tell right then and there that it was a pretty bad injury.”
As a result of the injury, the official diagnosis of which was a torn tendon sheath, Montigny had to wear a cast and then a walking boot for six weeks before undergoing physical therapy for more than a month. With further rehabilitation needed in order to avoid surgery, she was forced to miss the entire spring softball season and travel basketball over the summer.
Although being unfit to play softball or practice basketball was a setback, Montigny was determined to refine her craft in any way possible. With the help of friends and trainers, she spent an ample amount of time during the spring shooting baskets from a wheelchair at several local gyms.
“I just wanted to make sure my form was still consistent and that I didn’t get rusty,” Montigny said. “Even when I couldn’t be active by being on my feet, it was one way I could make sure I was still working and getting better. Being out there and doing that helped me stay positive, which was the most important thing.”
After spending the summer rehabbing and sitting out the start of cross-country season to ensure a full recovery, Montigny made her return to sports in late September. She took part in the Roger Willey 5K Road Race on Sept. 22 before rejoining her cross-country teammates for the Festival of Champions on Sept. 29 and playing a travel basketball game the next day.
“For Festival, the biggest thing for Trin was to just get back into that racing mindset,” head coach Louie Luchini said. “For her to be back and competing on a consistent schedule like that was a very important step for her, and she got better every week after that.”
No matter the sport, Montigny’s accomplishments speak for themselves. In addition to being the cross-country team’s top runner in 2017, she was named an all All-Big East Conference selection in basketball last year after finishing as Ellsworth’s leading scorer. She was the only lowerclassman among the 10 players selected to the team.
So high was head girls’ basketball coach Andy Pooler’s confidence in Montigny’s abilities at the beginning of her freshman season in 2016-17 that he made her the team’s starting point guard immediately. Montigny never relinquished that role, and as she prepares to lead the way for a young team as an upperclassman this year, her coach is confident she will take the next step as both a player and a leader.
“I don’t have to worry about whether or not she’s ready for that because the truth is that she’s been ready for it all along,” Pooler said Monday following the team’s first practice of the season. “She’s a heck of an athlete who possesses great vision and technique, and when you combine that with her work ethic and mental grasp of the game, she’s just one of those kids who’s been ready from Day 1.”
Even without Katelynn Bagley and Hannah Sargent, two senior leaders from last year’s team, Montigny will have plenty of talent by her side with the returns of several promising sophomores; the Eagles welcome back Samantha Carter, one of the league’s top 3-point shooters last season, as well as Sara Shea, Kylie Robidoux, Sierra Andrews and Kayla Duhaime.
Ellsworth will open the 2018-19 season when it plays on the road against Orono at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 8. For Montigny, who was unable to participate in organized basketball games for half the year, that day can’t come soon enough.
“It’s going to feel so great to be out there with the girls again. I don’t know if I’ve ever played on a team with this much talent,” Montigny said. “I’m just happy to be back in this position to help the team in any way I can, and I’m so thankful for everyone — family, my friends, doctors, trainers, all of them — who helped me along the way.”