By Gloria Austin
What do you do when your basketball season is over before it even starts? That is what faced Hodgdon’s Kevin McAfee.
The Hodgdon junior, son of Hollie and Tim McAfee, was injured Nov. 20 in a preseason game in Hodgdon.
“I did a layup and must have landed wrong,” he said. “My knee buckled and I could immediately tell something had torn from the sound and feeling.”
“Kevin came to me in warm ups during our game against Machias and said he thought he hurt his knee,” said Hodgdon coach Robbie Smith. “He sat out that game and had it checked later the next week.”
“The [doctors] determined I have a torn meniscus,” McAfee explained. “It actually flipped over onto itself. The surgery is common and recovery time is six to eight weeks.”
So, McAfee was done for the 2015-16 season before it officially began on Dec. 4. He is scheduled for surgery on Jan. 6.
“Kevin would have been a starter this year or depending on certain match-ups, first off the bench,” Smith explained. “He would have been a big presence in the middle.”
During the summer, McAfee spent time working on his post game and developed a 15-footer.
“With him being out, it takes away our depth [in the interior], but others have stepped up,” Smith said.
Though any injury is never good, knowing it is not your senior year, takes a bit of the sting of disappointment away.
As the Hawks are 5-2, they have no bigger cheerleader than McAfee on the bench.
“Kevin has turned into an encourager and another coach on the bench,” said Smith. “While sitting on the bench, I have heard him encouraging his teammates during the game and if he sees something on the floor, he lets them them know in timeouts or when players are getting a rest.”
Even though he is not suited up and playing, McAfee still gets absorbed into the games
“I have to watch out for him,” Smith said. “When he gets excited, I have seen him pop up and we have come close to running into each other.”
McAfee comes to practices, home contests and short-distance road trips.
“He is on the bench cheering on his teammates and learning the game from a different perspective,” Smith added.
While not on long road trips with his team, McAfee is able to focus on his school work, along with reading time and playing video games. But, the one subject keeping him the busiest is getting prepared for a return mission trip in April 2016.
McAfee went to LaGonave, Haiti in March of 2015 with a team from his home church, Houlton Wesleyan.
“I learned a lot from my last trip,” said McAfee, “including, trusting the people around you. I was the only teenager on the team last year, and this year, too.”
McAfee had to trust those around him and as he said, “they took pretty good care of me, seeing how I would have lost most of my belongings without their reminders.”
The Houlton Wesleyan Church team worked on reconstruction of the hospital that was damaged in a 2010 earthquake. In addition to working on the complex and visiting a school in the mountains, McAfee was especially touched to meet a young man named Ydson, who was left at the hospital by his mother Christmas 2013. He has cerebral palsy.
While the team was there, they were able to buy Ydson and his caregiver a plane ticket to a larger city where he could receive treatment. During that process, Ydson was placed in a loving foster home and attends a special school every day that helps him grow and learn.
Last year’s journey and this year’s trip is teaching McAfee about “immense generosity of our community. People have been kind enough to donate to my cause.”
McAfee has raised $526 of the $600 he needs by Dec. 31 for his first installment of the $1,500 needed.
“I expect a completely different experience in April,” said McAfee. “We are going to the same place, but in Haiti, everything is unpredictable. It is definitely an adventure, and I’m excited to see how it plays out.”
Though McAfee is part of the mission team, he is also part of the Hawks, right now.
“I miss playing in general,” he said. “It is hard to sit at practices and games without being able to go run with my team. I can still yell quite a bit from the bench, but I want to be on the court. I still go to all the practices that I can, so I can play a kind of leadership role and support my team. I’m sure my team will go far, and I’m glad I can still be a part of it.”