"She's a kid that surprises you," Merrill girls' basketball coach Melissa Yuska said about her star basketball player, Renee Sladek.
The junior has surprised her coaches multiple times and didn't start playing basketball until seventh grade. But she quickly improved, getting named team captain as a sophomore.
"She doesn't just take her athleticism and sit with it," Yuska said. "She wants to improve and wants to learn and keep getting better."
Sladek was good enough last year to be named to the all-conference first-team, even after suffering an ankle sprain early in the season.
"A practice before our third game, she went down, actually with about five minutes left in practice, and tried to get back up and jut couldn't go," Yuska described.
"I've never had a serious injury with sports," Sladek said. "It was shocking at first. I wanted to play really bad."
Doctors originally told Sladek that she'd be out six to eight weeks, a timetable that motivated her to prove doctors wrong. After working with physical therapy, Sladek was back in just three weeks.
"It was hard at first," Sladek said. "It was a big adjustment. I had to be more careful with it and I couldn't use it as much as I normally did. But after awhile, I got used to it and it just went away."
Sladek helped Merrill get to the sectional round of the postseason last spring. The multi-sport athlete also made it to the state championships in track and field.
Then earlier this month, she made the state semifinals in volleyball with her Bluejays squad. State championships is a goal that Sladek has for this basketball season.
As for staying healthy, it's barely on her mind.
"A little bit, but I don't think about that during games."
Renee Sladek, your Newsline 9 Athlete of the Week.
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