One day at a time. That is how Rachele Burns plans to deal with her most recent injury.

The redshirt freshman on the University of Maine women’s basketball team will miss the rest of the 2010-11 season with an injury to her left knee.

The 5-foot-6 guard from Gorham will undergo surgery next month to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament and torn medial meniscus. She was hurt during a Dec. 19 practice in Florida.

“There’s no way someone can go through life and be prepared for the hard luck that Rachele has had,” said UMaine coach Cindy Blodgett. “It obviously seems incredibly unfair for any one person to have to endure this much.”

Burns on Oct. 30 was cleared to resume full basketball activities after the third reconstructive surgery on her right knee in less than two years.

“Now I guess I can say my right leg’s my good leg, which has three surgeries on it, which is kind of sad to say,” Burns quipped.

Her future as a Black Bear appears to be up in the air, but she is committed to returning.

“A lot of people ask me why do you keep coming back and it’s because I want to play,” said the former Gorham High star, who was a BDN All-Maine second-team pick in 2008. “When you have your eyes set on something that you’ve always wanted to do and you’re so close, why back down from it?”

Blodgett admires Burns’ desire and resilience.

“She’s a fighter and I’m sure she’s going to meet this challenge the same way she has in the past,” Blodgett said.

She expressed concern about Burns’ long-term health. However, Blodgett said it is unfair to make any decisions regarding Burns’ future until the surgery and rehab processes have run their course.

“I’m going to do the right thing for this kid,” Blodgett said. “I do want to watch out for her. She has a life post-basketball. I am not going to put her in any kind of jeopardy.”

Burns only wants the opportunity to attempt another comeback and prove herself.

“Coach has taken a lot of chances on me,” said Burns, who received a scholarship after her second knee injury. “I’m hoping she takes one more, but I need to show her that I want to be here.”

Burns realizes it will be difficult to go through the injury-surgery-rehab process for a fourth time.

“It’s unfortunate, but you’ve got to take what life gives you and do the best that you can with it,” Burns said. “I’ve got to try to stay positive. That’s what I’ve learned through all this.”

Burns appeared in five games this season for UMaine. She averaged 3.4 points, 2.0 assists and 1.2 rebounds, logging 14.8 minutes per contest.

She made her debut Nov. 26 in the first game of the Dead River Co. Classic at Alfond Arena in Orono.

“It was exciting and it’s just what I’ve always dreamed of doing, playing at a high level,” Burns said.

Burns has some peace of mind knowing her surgery will again be performed by Dr. Thomas J. Gill, an orthopedic specialist in Boston who works with Boston’s pro sports teams. Gill did knee surgeries on New England Patriots stars Tom Brady and Wes Welker, among others.

As a freshman, Burns did not appear in any games after she re-injured her right knee during the Blue-White intrasquad scrimmage in October 2009. She had surgery during the semester break.

Burns had two surgeries during her career at Gorham, on Jan. 16, 2008 and Dec. 17, 2008.

UMaine’s Sunday game at 1 p.m.

The UMaine women begin their America East schedule Sunday with a game at Boston University.

Despite what was published on some schedules, the contest at Case Gymnasium in Boston is set to tip off at 1 p.m.

Pete Warner

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...