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Wednesday, May 25, 2022
Carlie Needles thought she just needed some more ice.
It turns out the only thing on ice is Needles’ season, which

ended when she suffered tears to the anterior cruciate ligament and

meniscus in her left knee during practice Sunday.

She is scheduled to undergo surgery after Thanksgiving.
“When [athletic trainer John Barrett] said those three letters

(ACL), I was just like, ‘What? Wait a second,’” Needles said.

Needles sustained the injury during an intra-squad scrimmage

while playing defense.

Coming down the court following a change of possession,

Needles attempted to cut off her opponent, but her left knee

buckled and she fell to the floor untouched.

Initially, Needles thought she had merely hyper-extended her

knee and would be back on the court shortly.

“I’ve seen people tear ACL’s right in front of me and I’ve

seen people scream, I’ve seen people just wobble off,” Needles

said.

“It didn’t hurt at all, but then a huge sense of pressure went

rushing to my knee.”

Needles is not the first player on the active UF roster to

experience ACL woes.

Redshirt senior forward Ndidi Madu and sophomore forward Lily

Svete both suffered tears to the ACL in their right knees in 2007

and 2009, respectively.

Like Needles, Madu and Svete sustained their respective

injuries during November practices as freshmen.

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“We still haven’t found that magic thing to determine why

exactly women are more susceptible to ACL tears than men,” Butler

said. “They’re just so prevalent in our game.”

Needles has never missed significant time in her basketball

career, admitting that she has never taken more than a couple of

weeks off at a time.

Senior guard Jordan Jones, who had to sit out the 2008-09

season following her transfer from South Carolina to Florida,

expects this season to be tough and at times, boring for

Needles.

“If there’s any positive in it, she was going to be learning a

lot anyways,” Jones said. “This gives her a chance to be coach

Butler’s right-hand man.”

While Needles’ injury is disappointment enough for the Gators,

it came during an already bleak time for the team.

Freshman guard Andrea Vilaró Aragonés returned to Spain last

Thursday after learning that her mother’s battle with cancer had

taken a turn for the worse.

Three days later, Butler received news that Aragonés' mother

had slipped into a coma.

She died the next day.
“There’s no way to ease the pain,” Butler said. “You just try

to make sure that she feels all the love we have for her.”

Butler says that she has not yet spoken with Aragonés and her

family about a timetable for her return to the team.

While Needles is frustrated by the abrupt end to her season,

she says that Aragonés’ loss helped her put things in

perspective.

“Vila’s probably one of the strongest people I know,” Needles

said of her suitemate. “Coming overseas and knowing that her mom

was sick, I personally don’t know if I could have done that.”

Since Aragonés returned to Spain, her father has kept in

contact with Butler through email.

Butler said that Aragonés’ father has been “an inspiration”

for her squad, constantly reminding her to “make sure the girls are

ready to play Michigan.”

“Those practices and games provide outlets for some of the

feelings you have that you don’t know where to place,” Butler

said.

Unfortunately for Needles, her only outlets are the film room

and the bench.

Watching from the sidelines, beginning Friday at 4:30 p.m.

against Michigan, will be a challenge, but Needles says to expect

an increased “hungriness” from her next season.

“Things happen for a reason and I keep telling myself that,”

Needles said. “It’s the way I was brought up — you just try to

overcome things, you don’t try to feel sorry for yourself.”

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