Archive for Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Opinion: Junior adjusts to new role

January 24, 2007

Michelle Chrisman has recorded hundreds of assists and come to thousands of jump stops during her already lengthy basketball career.

But unfortunately, she won't be adding to that total for several months.

Last Monday, during the Lady Bobcats' first-round game of their home tournament against St. Teresa's Academy, Chrisman grabbed a defensive rebound and pushed the ball up the floor. Once she reached the other end, she was stopped in the paint and came to a quick jump stop before dishing a sweet dime to Cassie Lombardino for a bucket.

Seconds later, Chrisman fell to the floor. Her right knee had given out and she knew something was wrong.

As she hobbled to the bench, Chrisman feared the worst. Last Friday, as the results from a visit to the doctor were divulged, she discovered it was even more frustrating than she imagined.

Chrisman's doctor confirmed that the ACL in her right knee was torn, but the meniscus, which commonly ruptures in knee injuries like Chrisman's, was a different story. The doctor wasn't sure. So the results of the MRI were sent to a group of surgeons, who proceeded to tell Chrisman that they weren't sure either. The only way to find out, they told her, was during surgery.

Great.

Here was a young woman already torn up about the possibility of missing the rest of the season struggling with the decision about whether she should try to play again this year or not.

Yikes.

"The doctors recommended that I don't play," Chrisman said. "They didn't say I can't, but they said they recommend I don't. I'm pretty good about doing what the doctors say and I don't want to hurt myself worse in the long run, but it's frustrating. There's a possibility that (the meniscus) is not torn and I could be playing."

The decision didn't take long, but it was more frustrating than it should have been for a basketball player who's never suffered more than a sprained ankle and has played hoops nearly all of her life.

Surgery is scheduled for Feb. 20 and after that Chrisman will begin the long road back.

She feels lucky, really. She's just a junior and so are most of her teammates. She still has another year of basketball -- and likely more -- ahead of her. That thought comforts her as she tries to understand why, or even how, she got hurt.

"I'm really glad this isn't next year," she said.

Chrisman has watched her teammates play four games without her now. They've won one of them and lost the other three. The losses are harder for her to watch because they force her to think about what she could've done to help. But even with that weighing on her mind, she's been there every step of the way -- even at practice.

She has a new role with the team. No more draining three-pointers and playing hard-nosed defense. Chrisman is now the team's biggest supporter. And in becoming that she has discovered that dozens of people are whole-heartedly supporting her, as well.

"I look at it as me being someone on the team who can just help people out," Chrisman said. "It's hard to believe something like this could happen, I've played basketball my whole life.

"But I'm motivated to come back with a stronger knee than I had, and a lot of people have been really helpful. I never knew that so many people cared so much."

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