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LA GRANGE – Michelle Durham is already planning her next challenge.
Durham, of La Grange, the one constant in the eight-year history of the Kentucky Karma women’s football franchise, could be looking at the end of her football career after a severe knee injury ended her season two weeks ago. “I got the football trifecta,” Durham said. “I tore my ACL, my MCL and my meniscus and at 42 it might not be something I can come back from.” Typical to her competitive nature, Durham is looking at the possibility of taking up a new sport that will also help her rehab the knee. “I know after the surgery one of the things they have you do is ride a bike,” Durham said. “I have never been into cycling, but it looks like fun and it’s easier on your body. Who knows, it might lead to something competitive.” That attitude has served Durham well in her eight years with the Karma. “That’s Michelle,” Karma coach/owner Tom Hawkins said. “She gives everything she has to anything she does.” Durham was one of the original 88 women who tried out for the Karma in Cincinnati. She is the last of that group still with the Karma. She saw an article in the paper about the Karma forming a team and could not pass up the chance. “Growing up playing with the boys in the neighborhood it just seemed natural,” Durham said. “I didn’t want to regret not doing it when I had the chance.” A 1986 graduate of Sacred Heart Academy, Durham was a multi-sport athlete there lettering in six sports – volleyball, softball, basketball, track, field hockey and fencing where she won a state title. She is a member of the SHA Athletic Hall of Fame. That versatility has been a hallmark of Durham’s career with the Karma. A wide receiver and defensive back, she is also the holder for field goals and extra points and returns punts and kickoffs. “She’s just a good, old-fashioned all around athlete,” Hawkins said. “She’s a quiet leader, she’s one of our captains.” Durham’s competitive nature has helped her longevity with the Karma. She said it hit her how long she had been with the team when one of her teammates mentioned being born in 1986, then gave Durham a bit of good-natured teasing about it being the same year she graduated from high school. “It’s funny sometimes but I just keep quiet about it and then go out and show them on the field,” Durham said. A maintenance mechanic with the Louisville Water Company, Durham stays busy at work as well serving as the company’s mascot in a Louisville Tap water bottle costume, where she appears at public functions and at local schools. Her ability as a mascot even got her an autographed picture and note from Louisville mayor Jerry Abramson who praised her performance after seeing her in action at a LWC event. Through the years with the Karma Durham said she has many great memories. Her favorite from the field came last season season when she caught a game-winning, 22-yard touchdown pass to beat Cincinnati with 30 seconds left in the game. “The coach called the play and I was like ‘Oh my God, that’s a swing pass to me’” Durham said. “The play went just as it was planned. There is no better feeling than catching the game-winning TD.” If her career with the Karma is over, Durham hopes she and the other players leave a legacy for other female athletes. “There’s an inner satisfaction and the feeling of camaraderie from being on a team with a great group of people,” Durham said. “It’s also unique for us playing football and I am proud of that. I hope we are showing all the little girls out there who have in interest in sports that they can do something like this if they want to.” E-mail us about this story at: email@example.com.