Throughout the course of history, many storied athletes have created their own legacies by playing through what many normal people would consider unimaginable pain caused by injuries.
The list can add one more name to it, Davis High School senior Macie Buckaloo.
On the surface, Buckaloo is just like any driven high school student-athlete. She’s been an all-state selection multiple times in softball, she’s been a team captain, and she plays competitive tournament softball with her travel team Oklahoma Force Webb in the summer. All of this while maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA and representing the DHS Class of 2017 as its Valedictorian.
But on a sunny day in June, deep in the heart of Texas last summer with her tournament team, Macie unknowingly began a journey that would take her to unimaginable heights in leadership and pain tolerance.
“I threw a rise ball during a game in McKinney, Texas and I immediately felt a sharp pain run down my leg and up my back,” she said. “I figured I had just pulled my hip flexor, so I shook it off and took ibuprofen and ice baths. I just had to play through the pain.”
However, Macie’s initial diagnosis of her injury wasn’t quite  accurate. As the months went on, the injury progressively got worse, leading Buckaloo to realize it was extremely serious by the time September came around.
“I didn’t tell anyone about my injury until I couldn’t stand up straight, about mid-September,” she said. “We had just won the Tushka Tournament. I just told myself I’m not going to the doctor until after the season, because I knew something was seriously wrong.”
“My mindset was that I couldn’t let my team down with it being my senior year,” Buckaloo added. “I pushed through for them and Coach (Jeff) Parnell. I went to physical therapy and ice was my best friend during this time. At the same time I was praying to God not to let my hip blow out on me. I was just so focused on my performance that it helped me push through the pain for the better of the team. It was just about finding the strength to press on each day.”
Following a heartbreaking defeat to Washington in the state fast pitch quarterfinals, Macie made a long overdue trip to the doctor’s office and got a confirmation of what she had thought was wrong with her hip.
“The doctor’s told me that I had torn my hip flexor and that I had a torn labrum,” she said. “I was going to have to have surgery to repair everything, and my recovery time was listed at six months.”
“To be honest, I was thankful that I didn’t have to have total hip replacement,” Macie added. “I thought I was going to considering how much pain I had been in. I cried because I thought my career would never be the same from that moment on. It scared me to think I had completely severed the tendon which helps me throw pitches.”
In the midst of her bad news, there was a glimmer of hope offered by the doctor, along with some encouragement from Coach Parnell.
“I was told that if I worked hard, that I would be able to come back better than ever following the surgery,” Macie said. “Once I hit therapy I heard that I could come back early if I worked hard enough. Coach Parnell just hugged me and told me he was so proud of me for pushing through. He told me he looked up to me for putting my team first with that kind of an injury.”
With one school softball season over, and another looming on the horizon, Macie went to physical therapy working towards the possibility of a storybook return. Then, on a November day, she got an extra boost of motivation.
Macie signed a national letter of intent to play college softball at Connors State College, the same day her teammate Jolie Romine also signed to play at Seminole State College.
“That moment was very special to me,” Macie said about signing to play college softball. “Even with my coaches knowing how injured I was, Connors State still believed in me enough to give me a full ride. It gave me even more of a drive to keep being positive and move forward to get back to my full potential.”
Fast forward to the month of April where Buckaloo’s teammates were battling for a district title in Healdton, against the Lady Bulldogs during the slow pitch softball season.
Davis managed to sweep its way to a district championship, sending them to the regional tournament.
It was there that Macie got her storybook return, well sort of.
“I wouldn’t call it able to play, but I had to make one plate appearance because it was my last slow pitch season ever,” she said. “I got one at bat, hit the ball to the fence and then walked back to the dugout.”
Despite the small impact her at bat might have had on her team in a game sense, the moment had a much larger feeling for everyone involved, including Macie.
“It was a very emotional moment to me,” she said. “Last season I had 23 home runs and this season I felt like I had let so many people down with not being out there. It definitely brought out a lot of emotions for me. Most of all I was proud of myself for being able to do that just four weeks post-surgery. I felt like I proved to everyone who thought I was never going to be the same that I was going to be better than ever.”
It was through her actions of heart, spirit and determination, along with a nomination from head coach Jeff Parnell that Macie received the Fenton Autogroup Fighting Heart Award for the 2016-17 school year.
“Receiving this award is very humbling and I’m so thankful for it,” Macie said. “I’m very proud that I have gotten to show the softball world how much this sport means to me and how much I care about it. This experience has taught me not to take anything for granted because it can be taken away in a moment.”
“You just have to learn to stay on course and work through any situation.”