Carla Flores: Road to recovery after sports injury


MACOMB, Illinois (NEWS3) — An injury that not only injured her body but broke her heart. 

Carla Flores’ junior season was cut short and she was forced to watch from the sidelines. With the new season fastly approaching, Flores is excited to make a comeback to her passion.

“Definitely, it’s mainly my biggest passion and I wanna [want to] play basketball until my body says I cannot anymore,” Flores said.

Carla Flores is the only international player on the WIU women’s basketball team. She is a Spanish student from Barcelona who arrived in Macomb in 2018. In Barcelona, Flores balanced not only school but basketball as well. Coming to Macomb was a big adjustment, but she transitioned easily because of her coaches and teammates. Flores describes Macomb as her home away from home and her team as her second family. 

In November of last year while playing against Chicago State, Flores dislocated her shoulder in the third quarter. As she was reaching for the ball, her arm got trapped. With previous injuries, it was soon discovered that her arm was dislocated. Carla screamed in agony and didn’t return to the court all season. 

The injury took almost 11 months for her to recover. Her body wasn’t the only thing that was injured: her mind was the biggest challenge. Her injury forced her to watch from the sidelines as her team played without her. Flores feels that she cannot play the way she used to because she is afraid of getting hurt. Today Flores is making a comeback on the court with her first exhibition game of the season.

“Well, I struggled a lot after I got injured,” Flores said. “There were so many things going on in my life at that time. So I’ve always been like pretty positive and worrying about other things. I think I learned more about taking care of myself and taking some distance from basketball. To be able to be ok and return to it. 

Grace Dierenfield, the WIU women’s basketball athletic trainer, worked with Carla even before her injury. She grew a close bond with not only the women’s basketball team, but with Carla personally. Grace was one of the first ones to rush out onto the court when Flores got injured. 

For those 11 months, she worked with Flores to get her back on the court and ready to compete in her Senior Season.

“Carla is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met,” Dierenfield said. “I enjoy working with her a lot, prior to even her getting injured. [And was] always a fun person to talk to, I love listening about her culture in Spain and things that I didn’t know, so that was kind of a fun thing that we got to do together.”

Carla had to go through surgery for about 12 hours. Grace was with Carla throughout her entire recovery process. Not only on the court but with her as she went into surgery. They followed the doctor’s orders to a T to make sure Carla had a speedy and successful recovery. Grace described her injury as the most heartbreaking one she has seen. And says it is hard to see someone you care about go through that pain.

With this being the toughest injury of her career, Carla is making a comeback with not only the support of her team but her coaches and athletic trainer as well. Her first time being back on the court was this Monday at Western Hall against Columbia. Where Western won 70-57.

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