She traded a jersey and shoes for a clipboard and a whistle.
Jenna Curry’s sports career was going right on track as she blossomed in two sports in high school. Playing for Sissonville High School in West Virginia, Curry was a standout as goalkeeper for the Indians for four years, earning back-to-back 1st Team All-State and All-Kanawha Valley Honors. She even was named the Class AA West Virginia Goalie of the Year in 2010.
But despite soccer success, Curry’s first love was on the basketball court.
Curry was heavily recruited going into her senior campaign after her breakout season as a junior—where she eclipsed the 1,000-point mark and averaged nearly 20 points per game and nine rebounds as she helped lead the Indians to their third straight Cardinal Conference Title. Her sophomore and junior year she was 1st Team All-Conference, All-Kanawha Valley and All-State, just like soccer.
Curry ended up signing to play basketball for Ohio University following her junior season.
Life was going great for Curry going into her final year of High School basketball, until the ball dropped to a new year in 2011, which would bring disaster.
Facing rival Scott High School on January 3rd, 2011, Sissonville trailed by three with under a minute remaining in the contest. Curry took a shot to try to tie the game and immediately knew it was off the mark. While racing to get her own rebound, Curry collided with another players’ knee and fell awkwardly to the ground and knew right away it was bad.
“I immediately knew that something was wrong because normally I would pop right back up after getting hurt and this time I was screaming in pain,” Curry stated.
Soon after, Curry found out that she had torn her ACL, an injury that would require surgery and would end her playing career at Sissonville.
With her basketball career facing a questionable future and college right around the corner, Curry sought the medical opinion of a few doctors, hoping to receive some good news.
“The first doctor that I went to basically told me that I would never be able to play basketball again. I was so angry and upset with him I got up and told my mom we were leaving the doctor’s office. I had already signed with Ohio University and there was no way that one doctor was going to determine my future.”
Seeking some guidance, Curry called Semeka Randall; head coach at the time at Ohio and wanted a second opinion. She referred to a surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic, who told Curry that after surgery and proper rehab, she would be good to go in college.
Normal rehabilitation for a torn ACL is around 9-12 months, but Curry had different ideas. She decided to try to play as a true freshman for Ohio, after just six months of rehab, a decision she would later regret as she would tear the same ACL again in November of 2011, the second time in an 11-month span.
Wanting another chance, Curry took the smart route and elected to go with a full one-year rehab after another surgery to the same knee.
“I rehabbed and worked very hard every single day, sometimes twice a day, trying to get my weight down from the surgeries, getting mobility in my leg. It was hard work. I was on crutches for almost two and half months. 12 months drug by and finally I was released to play basketball again,” Curry declared looking back on past hope.
After one year of waiting, she finally got completely healthy and was looking forward to her college debut, and had a certain game on the schedule as her grand return to center stage—a December 15th road contest against Marshall in her home state of West Virginia.
“Being from West Virginia, this was a game that a lot of my family and friends had planned on attending.”
The day before the team traveled to Marshall for the game, Curry’s chance of playing took a major twist of fate when she fell to the ground during practice, re-injuring the same knee. Coaches and the training staff thought maybe it was just a tweak, but Curry knew otherwise.
“I fell on the ground and started screaming, pissed off at the world knowing what had happened. My coaches tried to tell me maybe I just tweaked it but I knew what had happened.”
An MRI on the knee confirmed Curry’s original diagnosis; she had torn the same ACL for the third time in less than two years. b
Basketball once again took a backseat.
When Ohio hired a new coach at the beginning of the 2013 season, Bob Bolden, he decided that with Curry’s history of knee injuries, she was no longer needed on the team.
She never appeared in a single game.
This took quite the toll on Curry, who had worked her whole life for a chance to play at the collegiate level. “I was devastated because my world revolved around basketball.”
Now that her playing career was over, Curry thought back to all that she had sacrificed for the game for years when she was in the process of trying to get recruited. “I missed birthday parties, family vacations and shut everyone out because I was in a gym somewhere trying to get better.”
“I went into depression and shut everyone out,” Curry said after her third injury.
Though her playing career was over, a new career was just beginning.
Curry decided to start an AAU Basketball League. She asked for the assistance of a former teammate, Cierra Jones, to go into the business with her. Together, they founded a non-profit AAU organization called WV Team Infinity.
After beginning with just one girls’ team, the organization took off; and in just a short period time, that one squad turned into 10 teams, eight boys and two girls, and the organization took off.
Curry began coaching and is now helping her players achieve the same dream that she had.
“We are dedicated to doing whatever is necessary to help young boys and girls reach the next level in their basketball career.”
Although ten different teams are a part of WV Team Infinity, Curry is head coach for one of the two girls’ teams, the 15U club and is assistant coach of the 16-and-17-year old team, too.
Through Team Infinity, Curry and her teams have traveled to all kinds of tournaments in 2014—in places such as: Lexington, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo.
2015 shows even more opportunities for the team, as they will travel to Raleigh, North Carolina, Virginia, Columbus, Tennessee and Washington D.C. for even more tournaments against the nation’s elite competition.
Curry credits her players and the parents of her team for their dedications to making Team Infinity so successful.
“I am so grateful for the parents and the girls that make all of this possible. AAU basketball is a very serious and expensive commitment.”
How much of a commitment is AAU? Curry provided a small sample of her team’s summer schedule in July of 2015.
• July 3rd-4th Practice
• 5th- 8th Lexington, Kentucky Tournament
• 9th-13th Franklin, Tennessee Tournament
As far as the people who have helped her with Team Infinity, Curry spoke highly about everyone who is made this possible, “I would like to think my Vice President Matt Orcutt, Cierra and my mother Jennie Curry who help me with day-to-day operations. I could not be doing this without them.”
Although her playing days may be over, coaching is a way for Curry to give back to the girls that are just beginning their dreams.
“Coaching has changed my life; I never thought I would love something as much as I loved playing basketball. I did a lot of watching because of my injuries and this is a way to give back because I want these kids to have the same opportunities that I had,” Curry stated.
Asking if Curry ever looks back and wonders: what if? She responds, “I am a Christian and I believe that God has a plan and that everything happened for a reason. I believe that I was put into these kid’s lives, especially my team’s, for a reason. I love helping kids and it is so rewarding to be here at college and having their parents calling and texting me about their successful middle school and high school career.”
Though she will never put on a jersey again, Curry is aiding others at a chance at the career that eluded her due to unfortunate injuries.
And that is giving back.