Stevie Orton is a current sophomore from Gilford, New Hampshire who is also a dedicated member of the ENC Women’s Basketball team. She has received Player of the Week multiple times from the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) while also being named to the D3Hoops.com National Team of the week during this 2019-2020 season. At the end of the season she was also named to the All-NECC first team, receiving the title of Player of the Year.
Before attending ENC, Orton was on a full-scholarship to Snow College in Utah where she played basketball. During her first year there, she tore a few ligaments in her foot which never healed correctly. She was tested multiple times through X-Rays, MRIs, etc. but nothing seemed to help her as she was in pain most of the time. Shortly after her season, she injured the same foot again during the summer. This led to the pain spreading throughout her whole body, and she broke her foot once again.
In December of 2018, Stevie was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). CRPS is described as a miscommunication between her nerves and her brain. On a daily basis, Orton describes the pain as feeling like her body is on fire. Before treatment and physical therapy, it was hard for Stevie to complete simple tasks such as putting on socks. In the beginning, it was also hard to wear certain materials just because of how sensitive her skin was to touch. Not many people get past this point.
Orton takes medicine that is supposed to help with her nerve pain and sensitivity. Other people with CRPS take painkillers but she did not want that course of treatment. She has used different pads to occupy her nerves, thus interrupting the pain signal from reaching her brain. She has also worn patches at times to numb certain areas of her body. “It’s a really, really slow road to getting better but I just take it one step at a time,” says Orton.
CRPS is not something that defines Orton, it is just a part of her. She is still very committed to playing the game she loves, basketball. She has found that some days are harder than others and playing basketball with the disease can help but also hurt her. When she is moving around and playing the game, she described that it is sort of like rehab for her body. However, if she was to get hit, bumped aggressively or take a bad fall, it would set her back. She has had to sit out during games due to flare-ups of CRPS.
“The biggest obstacle for me is communicating how I’m actually feeling. There will be days where I’m in really bad pain and I just don’t want to tell anyone.” She added that she is not a huge fan of sympathy as she lives with CRPS every day. When it came to basketball, Orton found it hard to tell her coaches when she was actually able to have a successful practice since the pain can affect her performance. Orton explained it was hard learning how to be open on game days about how she was doing, but it was something that she had to get through each time.
Basketball is something that Orton has always loved to do and she is blessed to still be able to play the game. Orton shared that she loves the game so much, she is willing to do anything to play even though it can take a large toll on her body. “While I’m in the game, my mind is focused on the game. The pain comes mostly when I stop playing, unless I were to get hit pretty hard.” She does not consider CRPS to be a disability since she is still able to do everything that everyone else does.
After two years at Snow College, Orton started looking at colleges closer to home in New Hampshire. She was set on attending Plymouth State University, but after visiting ENC, everything changed. Orton shared she loved the coaches, loved the girls, and committed on her second visit here. “It just felt like ENC was where I was supposed to be.” The team has grown to be her family and she is thankful for all of the support she has received from them throughout her journey here.
Orton has done a great job acclimating to campus in her first year here at ENC. She loves to be involved in new experiences, which is what led her to joining chapel teams. Along with basketball, she leads worship on a chapel team, sharing her other talents of singing and playing the piano. She is also excited to partake in the future drama productions that ENC puts on. “One of the mottos I live by is ‘I’ll do anything once’,” Orton shares. She is a very outgoing and determined person. Stevie Orton likes to have fun and is not going to let CRPS hold her back from doing what she loves, reflected by her sports accolades.