A knee injury stopped her from playing sports for two years – but 21-year-old Jamie Chang got back on her feet as an even stronger athlete.
Jamie Chang was carving a path to success in basketball when she was stricken by an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury. She was only 16 then. Jamie felt her world collapse; she had just made the cut to be part of the national training squad. More importantly, she lives and breathes sports.
Year 2 Occupational Therapy undergraduate Jamie Chang (in black) has been playing basketball since primary school. (Photo: Jamie Chang)
Little did she realise that this adversity further strengthened her love and passion for basketball. She learnt how to move out of her comfort zone – mentally and physically – during her recovery period, which spanned close to two years.
“I was reaching athletic peak performance during that period, but the injury forced me to take a step back from sports. I couldn’t be involved in the competitions necessary to make me a better player. It didn’t feel normal for me at all,” said the 21-year-old Year 2 Occupational Therapy undergraduate.
Turning Weakness into Strength
Yet, it is only natural for resilient people to laugh in the face of adversity – and Jamie did exactly that. She shared that support from friends and family also helped her recover better and quicker. Making up for the time she lost in playing basketball due to her injury, Jamie eased back into training as soon as she entered polytechnic, despite not fully recovered. This came at a cost. “I had to change my playing style because of what happened, and this meant changing my position in games. I am more of a shooter now and less of my previous role as a ball handler,” she shared.
Jamie’s road to recovery exemplified her career aspiration: to help improve a person’s ability to perform daily activities. Hence, she went on to pursue the Occupational Therapy degree programme at SIT. The clinical placement at Ren Ci Community Hospital last year further broadened her perspective on patients’ rehabilitation process as she worked directly under seasoned therapists.
Jamie’s family provided the support she needed when recovering from her injury. (Photo: Jamie Chang)
Over the years, Jamie’s enthusiasm for sports never wavered, and she is not one who rests on her laurels. She did not just want to be a team player anymore – she wanted to lead. Hence, she eagerly took on the role of vice-captain of SIT’s basketball team during her first year, before becoming captain in her second year. Beyond tapping on her past achievements and downfalls as an athlete, Jamie credits the leadership workshops SIT organises with helping her become more confident to take charge.
Jamie and her team at the ASEAN University Games Thailand 2022. (Photo: Jamie Chang)
Her involvement in ASEAN University Games Thailand 2022 testified to her leadership capabilities. “Although we had sent in a team of 12 players for the competition, four members had to withdraw as they caught COVID-19. With just eight players, it was important to encourage one another to play with an open mind,” said Jamie.
Gleaning Inspiration from Seniors
Her success in sports fuelled her passion in contributing to the university as a leader, inspired by fellow SITizens. She is currently participating in a mentorship programme with her seniors from the Occupational Therapy programme. “I truly enjoy this mentorship experience. My seniors are helpful, going out of their way to clarify my doubts in various academic subjects. The weekly meetups also allow me to refresh my memory on certain topics, and that’s critical for therapists,” shared Jamie.
The undergraduate has also been inspired by SIT Vanguards after attending a leadership workshop facilitated by these senior student leaders. SIT Vanguards are able to relate to the younger undergraduates, she feels. “They were once in my position too – entering the university as juniors. I hope to be one of them and contribute to SIT before graduating,” added Jamie.
Jamie is grateful for her experience at SIT so far. “SIT empowers undergraduates to take on leadership roles. There are plenty of opportunities for students to thrive, and we should challenge ourselves more. I believe everyone is a leader in his or her own way – it is how you choose to have your voice heard,” she shared.