2018-12-05 / Local News

Injury at the Maccabi Games inspires a career

By REA BOCHNER Voice staff

Age: 25

Hometown: Cherry Hill (currently lives in Center City)

Family: Mother Hope, father Keith, sister Rebecca, 21

Synagogue: Cong. Beth El

Hobbies: Going to Eagles and Sixers games

Favorite Vacation Destination: Australia

For Amanda Morgan, it was all about basketball. She began playing at five years old, encouraged by her father, Keith Morgan, who coached the Junior Maccabi and Maccabi teams at the Katz JCC in Cherry Hill, and her mother, Hope. In ninth grade, while playing in her first high school basketball game at Cherry Hill East, Amanda fell and tore her ACL, a knee ligament that required surgery to heal, as well as 10 months of rehabilitation. It was during this time that her interest became piqued in physical therapy, which, along with her love for the game, pushed her to recover and join the Maccabi basketball team.

Being a part of the Maccabi Games, a North American Olympic-style sporting event for Jewish teens with teams from around the world, was an unforgettable experience for Amanda. “Although I played basketball in middle school and high school, [preparing for] Maccabi [at the JCC] was where I really started getting better and improving my skills,” said Amanda, who attended her first tournament in Orange County, California.

It was at Amanda’s second Maccabi Games, at Pace University in Westchester, New York, that she tore her ACL, on the same knee, for the second time. “It was in front of a ton of people,” she said. “It was a non-contact [injury], which meant that no one hit me, I was just more susceptible because I’d been injured before.” Amanda was once again on the sidelines, unable to play. She spent her birthday at the tournament on a pair of crutches.

Amanda was faced with a choice: To push through her recovery, try basketball again, and risk a worse injury, or find another way to be involved. “My heart and my mind were saying different things,” Amanda recalled, “but I decided that I could still be a part of the team, even if it was in a different way.” Amanda gave up playing and became her high school team’s publicist.

Meanwhile, while still rehabbing her knee, her interest in physical therapy crystallized into a career goal. Amanda decided that she would become a physical therapist, dedicating herself to the goal throughout high school and college, where she studied at Penn State’s School of Kinesiology.

“Did I ever think my kid would do something in the medical field? No way,” said Hope. “But she always worked her heart out in this major, which is like pre-med.”

Amanda agreed that the program was daunting. “In undergrad, my major seemed a lot more difficult than my friends’, but I knew it would be worth it in the end.” Amanda graduated from Penn State, and then went on to the University of Sciences for their three-year Doctorate Program in Physical Therapy. She graduated this past May and passed her boards in July, making her officially a Doctor of Physical Therapy.

For Amanda, the process was an experience of coming full circle. “I got to do a clinical at [The Training Room], which was incredible. I was a patient there, then a student physical therapist for kids who were my age and with the same injury.”

Now on the other side, she’s ready to join the workforce. “It’s scary and kind of exciting, because I’ve wanted this for so long.” Now living in Center City, Amanda is willing to be patient until the right position comes her way. “You’re not meant to do what’s easy,” she said. “If you work hard, you’ll get to where you’re meant to be.” 

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