“Heart-wrenching is a good word,” said Steve Gemelos, Jacki’s father. “Each time she gets hurt, it gets a little tougher.”
As a parent, he wanted so badly to find somebody to blame. Was it him? Did he overwork her as a child on the concrete pavement at the park? Or the doctors? The therapists? “You never want to just say that’s just the way it is,” he said.
So Steve and Linda Gemelos were ready for Jacki to be done with basketball after the injury in Texas. But then she was drafted by the Lynx. Suddenly there was a goal.
“At that point, we couldn’t say no,” Steve Gemelos said. “She was saying, ‘I’ll never know if I could have made it if I don’t try one more time.’ … I am so proud of her, but I’m also scared.”
Steve Gemelos said his daughter gets her toughness from her mom, but the whole family is filled with it. Steve has beat cancer, as has Linda, twice. Jacki’s sister, Johnna, tore an ACL in high school, ending her sports career; she is now a doctor.
Even the family pet, a cocker spaniel named Oliver, has come back from an ACL tear of his own.
So the grit is there.
Still, Gemelos faces an uphill task to make the Lynx roster. She knows it, just as she knows five surgeries have robbed her of some skill. She brings height (6-0) along with the ability to shoot the three-pointer and play both guard positions.
But even if it doesn’t happen right away, Gemelos isn’t about to quit. “If there is a time period where I’m healthy for four, five years? I think I could really get some momentum going. I can see by 28, 29 years old playing the best basketball of my life.”
But first things first. She’s trying to make it here.
Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve is impressed just by Gemelos making it this far. “The things we always talk about are preparation, passion, perseverance,” Reeve said. “This kid, from a perseverance standpoint? Times 10. … But it might take a little bit. This league is really hard to crack.”
Gemelos is ready to do whatever is necessary. “I’m going to go until I get it,” she said of her dream. “However long it takes.”