Caroline Stewart spent just over seven months in Northern Ireland playing basketball as a member of the women’s professional basketball team in Belfast, the Ulster Rockets.
The 22-year-old former Masconomet and Boston University standout went overseas in September to earn her master’s degree in business at the University of Ulster as a Victory Scholar, as well as play hoop over there.
In mid-March, Stewart suffered a devastating Achilles injury, which for the time being has her back in her hometown of Topsfield recuperating.
“I tore my Achilles in the fourth quarter of the Superleague semifinal game,” Stewart said. “I was driving to the left side of the basket and I thought a player clipped the back on my foot and I went right down. I knew right away it was really bad. Later I learned nobody was behind me to clip my foot, but that is the feeling when an Achilles tears. It feels like somebody has shot you in the back of the leg.”
A few days later a MRI confirmed that it was in fact a tear and Stewart flew home for surgery, which was performed on March 28.
“The whole process was a whirlwind, but I was surrounded by so much support and love while still in Northern Ireland from my Sport Changes Life family. The whole process could not have gone any smoother,” Stewart noted.
Through the Sports Changes Life foundation, Stewart was allowed to play basketball, get her masters and work with at-risk youth as the country’s first female scholar-athlete.
The Ulster Rockets are the newest addition to the Irish Superleague, coming in just two years ago. Stewart powered the team to the league semifinals this season, averaging 18 points per game and 11 rebounds, but for now she is focused on getting back on her feet.