Megan Jonassen Reflects on Career, ACL Injury

The star forward for the women’s basketball team grappled with her legacy role since her devastating injury



Megan Jonassen GSAS ’23 averaged 6.4 points and 6.1 rebounds throughout 19 games in the 2022-23 season.


“It’s not how I wanted to end my career,” Megan Jonassen, Graduate School of Arts and Science ’23, said. “But I realized it could have been so much worse. I was lucky to play for four and a half years, so I am trying to be grateful.” It was February, nearly a month after a serious ACL tear put her out of action for the rest of the year. Since then, Jonassen has had a lot of time to reflect on that career-altering moment and her legacy with the Fordham women’s basketball program. 

On Jan. 18, in the seventh minute of play against the University of Massachusetts, Jonassen fell. This isn’t uncommon in a physical basketball game, but it was concerning when she didn’t quickly get up. The Rose Hill Gymnasium fell silent as the game stopped. The white-out game, a celebration of school spirit, had taken a worrisome turn. For teammate Kaitlyn Downey, GSAS ’23, it was a frightening experience. 

“I was looking down the court, and I was yelling in my head ‘Meg, get up off the floor!’” she said. “Just because Meg is someone that is such a tough player and is always resilient.” 

As the information started to come in and the diagnosis became official, it quickly set in as a gut-punch to the program. For five years, Jonassen was an enormously impactful presence in the paint. Her competitive fervor and serial ability to reel in rebounds and contest shots across all five positions are some of the skills touted by Candice Green, the rookie head coach for the program. 

“She’s done a great job off the court of just being a good role model. She’s never had a ‘pity me’ mentality about this at all.” Kaitlyn Downey, GSAS ’23

“She brings a lot of energy and effort onto the court,” Green said. “She’s our hustle player. She does a lot of things that you don’t necessarily see in the stats.”

Beyond her direct impact on the court, Jonassen is one of the premier leaders for the Rams. She brings energy, confidence and a veteran voice to the team. Having to sit out so early in the conference schedule hurt the Rams, who were preparing to make a deep run in the end-of-season tournament. The Rams had a strong record of 12-7 with Jonassen in the lineup. After her injury it was clear Fordham missed the forward. However, the team performed admirably in her absence posting a record of 7-6. The Rose Hill team made it to the quarter finals of the Atlantic 10 (A10) postseason, having settled into third place in the standings by the time March rolled around.

A lot of that has to do with the impact she had on the sidelines. Jonassen traveled with the team and attended as many games as possible, working around her surgery and physical therapy in order to continue to give the team her all.

Her teammates have supported her throughout the recovery process. They’ve done mental health check-ins and helped her out regularly. Many of the women’s basketball players live together, and even those that live separately, get along well. It made for a caring and supportive environment as Jonassen worked through a long physical therapy regimen.

“Basketball is a game of highs and lows. When you are low you need to instill confidence in yourself and your teammates.” Megan Jonassen.

And with this support, Jonassen continued to embody the character and performance that she delivered her entire career at Rose Hill. She began her time at Fordham in the 2018-19 season with her foot on the gas. She played in 33 games and recovered over 50 offensive rebounds. That year, she was a rotation player, serving as a backup for starter Mary Goulding, Fordham College at Rose Hill ’19, in the forward position.

It was also in 2019 that the team won the A10 championship and played the No. 12 seed, Syracuse University, in the NCAA Division I women’s basketball tournament. For fans of Fordham basketball, it was one of the most successful years in recent memory. For Jonassen, it was a defining moment in her career.

“She’s done a great job off the court of just being a good role model,” Downey said. “She’s never had a ‘pity me’ mentality about this at all. She’s had to adjust and contribute in a different way for the team.”

As the years went by, Jonassen enjoyed progressively more time on the floor. Although the COVID-19 pandemic cut the 2020-21 season short, she nestled into a starting role as she cemented her offensive rebounding ability. That year, she hauled in more boards on that end of the floor than on defense.

The COVID-19 pandemic had a silver lining however, as the NCAA allowed all student-athletes to retain an extra year of eligibility, meaning that Jonassen had an opportunity to keep shining into her graduate education.

In the 2022-23 season she led the team as a captain for the second year in a row. Her leadership has had a profound impact on her teammates. Even after she was sidelined by the injury, she continued to be one of the most vocal people in team huddles and an enthusiastic cheerleader for the Rams.

“I’m obviously not practicing, but showing up on the sideline and giving them support is something that I have really been focusing on,” Jonassen said. “Basketball is a game of highs and lows. When you are low you need to instill confidence in yourself and your teammates.”

“We miss her in practice because she has such a big voice,” Green said. “She obviously can still do that from the sideline, but I think it’s just harder for Meg because she leads by example.”

After a successful year, the women’s basketball team is preparing for another season and an even deeper run. Meanwhile, Jonassen’s surgery was a success, and she is walking well. Despite the unfortunate cutoff to her season, she is one of the best players the women’s basketball program has fielded. 

She averaged 4.7 rebounds per game and totaled more offensive boards than defensive in three of her five seasons. In her final year, her free throw shooting improved dramatically, going from a 60% average to an 80% average. She played in 129 games and scored over 500 points.

Her statistical impact will be missed, as well as her presence in the locker room. Even as the team looks forward, it is clear that the legacy she leaves behind is valuable and transcends whatever obstacles came in her way.

“We all look at it from a point of view that ‘Wow, anything can be taken away at any moment,’” Green said in February. “We have to play every game super hard because she doesn’t get to play. We’re doing it for her.”