College Spotlight: Destiny Deetz overcomes adversity and rediscovers love for basketball

What a time to graduate high school. In the spring of 2020, when the world hit pause for the COVID pandemic, Destiny Deetz was graduating from Rabun County after being a standout in volleyball and basketball. She had committed to play at Piedmont University in volleyball.

Immediately, her Fall 2020 volleyball season was pushed back to being a Spring 2021 sport, thanks to COVID. Waiting wasn’t too hard at first. But then, in the first spring practice in February of 2021 at 5 AM, Deetz tore her ACL, as well as her medial and lateral meniscus.

Photo in graphic & feature photo by Karl Moore / Piedmont University

“The journey to recovery was one of the hardest things ever,” states Deetz. “I had made it through high school with small injuries, but never something that had taken me away from the sports that I loved for over a year. Things were hard at the beginning physically, but nothing compared to the mental toll it took on me. I have always heard people say that the mental battle is always worse than the physical, but I never experienced that until my injury. I learned a lot about my perseverance and how much sports played a role in my identity.”

Deetz had waited, and now had to wait some more.

“At the time, I was just here to play volleyball with no intention to ever pick up a basketball again,” adds Deetz. “Most importantly, I felt that if I was going to risk getting hurt again, it was going to be doing what I love most which is when I decided I wanted to play basketball. I decided to play basketball when I was not even cleared from my injury. I hid this decision from everyone and didn’t tell my parents until I was on the way to play my first basketball game at Berry College. Coach [Jamie] Purdy was always open to having me on the team, so she was excited when I decided that I wanted to.”

Deetz’s injury suddenly appears to be a blessing in disguise. A time of physical breakdown led to mental growth for her, and gave her time to reflect on what truly matters most to her.

“I can truthfully say that I have never loved the sports more than I do now,” adds Deetz. “Having it taken away from me when I had never been more excited to play before and then having to sit out for almost two years made me appreciate every minute I played. I never took a single rep or second off and I think that made all of the difference this season. I was always putting in the extra work to try and not just compete at this level, but earn a starting spot. I was worried in the beginning, but I knew I was a hard worker and I would do anything to get back to the level I was at, if not better.”

Deetz is just that…better. Physically and mentally, she’s stronger for what she went through. This past basketball season, Deetz averaged 6.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game, making her the team’s fifth-highest scorer and second-leading rebounder on the Lady Lions’ roster. She started 17 games and played in 25 overall, and added 16 steals, 12 assists, 7 blocks, and a 51% FG percentage. Deetz even connected on both of her 3-point attempts for good measure. She’s also had the chance to play alongside former Rabun teammate Laken Stiles (also a Class of 2020 member).

Deetz also got to play in Fall 2022 in volleyball, and got 16 matches under her belt. She tallied 38 kills, 19 digs, 13 blocks, and 3 assists. She is an impact player in both sports, much like she was at Rabun County. Still, being a two-sport star in college is entirely different and much more rare. She has had no problem adjusting to juggling two sports and being a standout in the classroom.

“It honestly doesn’t feel that much different than when I was in high school,” says Deetz. “I think that I am just accustomed to always being on go mode that I don’t know how to rest. I put academics above sports so I always set time apart in order to get things done. Piedmont puts lots of emphasis on how academics come first, so coaches are always very understanding when it comes to this concept.”

Deetz was one of 4 Lady Lions who earned CSC Academic All-District honors, and twice has been named to the USA South All-Academic Team (2021, 2022). Still, being in shape for volleyball and basketball are two totally different things when it comes to the athletic side of things.

“Volleyball workouts are primarily focused on jumping and quick first movements,” adds Deetz. “I think this helps me with basketball because it primarily helps me with rebounding. Also, one of the hits is a lot like a layup so being able to take concepts from one sport to another helps a ton. Other than that they are completely separate. Being in basketball shape compared to volleyball shape are two very different things. Basketball is a lot more running and we normally don’t run a lot in volleyball so that is something I have to do after hours to prepare later in the season.”

For Deetz, she’s technically in her junior year and going into the senior season. However, when you factor in the COVID year that saves a year of eligibility, and the medical redshirt that saves another, it’s safe to say her collegiate career is just getting started.

“I have my whole senior year left, but I feel like I won’t be ready to walk away just after playing two seasons,” she admits.

Whether she plays one or two more seasons beyond this (or more), there’s no doubt she’s made a massive impact on both the volleyball and basketball program.

“I wouldn’t have had the successful basketball and volleyball career without Stephanie Smart, Jamie Purdy, and Christian Buckmire,” adds Deetz. “They have pushed me to be the best player I can be and I am just not finished yet.”

Deetz is a Healthcare Administration major with plans to work in a hospital one day. She was a two-time All-Region player in volleyball and basketball while at Rabun County.

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