Fagan plays through severe pain to earn Tribune Athlete of the Year honors at Whittell | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Fagan plays through severe pain to earn Tribune Athlete of the Year honors at Whittell

It ended Bo Jackson’s career. Neil Lomax had to have his replaced.

But an ailing hip didn’t stop Whittell High senior Caitlin Fagan from playing both soccer and basketball during her senior year.

During the fall, Fagan led her team to the Nevada 2A state soccer title and won the state’s Most Valuable Player award.

All her accolades almost never happened.

At the end of her junior year, Fagan’s hip was bothering her so much she consulted a doctor about surgery.

The operation would have cost her final year of athletics at Whittell. The doctor told her that if she postponed the procedure until a later date, the malformed joint would not get any worse.

That was the good news.

The bad news was it wouldn’t get any better either, so Fagan elected to forego the operation until after high school.

“He said I could go without it for about five to 10 years,” Fagan said.

At times during the year the pain was so intense she couldn’t practice during the week, but she never missed a game.

During the season-ending soccer game against Incline in the fall, she was so banged and bumped around that she was forced to sit out the end of the contest – something she rarely did.

Warrior soccer coach Mike Leeper knew the importance of his leader in scoring and assists. He often wouldn’t have her services during the week but could always count on her for game day.

“A lot of times when I needed to count on her to carry the team, she always met the challenge,” he said. “She always played despite her injuries.”

Fagan never changed her physical style of play because of her sore hip. She would never shy away from contact both on the soccer field and the basketball court.

She continued to drive the lane in basketball and fight for the ball in a crowd on the soccerfield.

“It didn’t change my style very much at all,” she said. “During the game I didn’t notice all that much.”

During the heat of battle the pain was the furthest thing from her mind, but during time-outs and halftime, Fagan would have to take as many as four Advils to make the pain subside.

“It was difficult sometimes to play,” Fagan said. “The Advil helped some.”

On the basketball court, Fagan was a one-person show most of the time.

She handled the ball the majority of the time and averaged double digits in scoring.

During her four-year career, Fagan quickly emerged as one of the best cagers in the league. She was named to the first team all league as well as honorable mention for the all state team.

“As a freshman she was the second-leading scorer on the team,” Warrior girls basketball coach Lindsay Wines said. “By the time she was an upperclassman, she was definitely the leader of the program.”

Fagan also played softball for three and half years for Wines.

Although her two main sports were soccer and basketball, Fagan could have dominated any sport she tried.

“You always have to replace players,” Leeper said. “But we’ll never be able to totally replace her leadership and and ability.”

Her mark on the Whittell athletic program will be the long lasting.

“It’s going to be a big loss for WHS athletics,” Wines said. “Any team she tried out for she made and made them better as well.”

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