Pushed To The Limit

I’ve been asked, “What’s the one thing that you miss the most?”, and to give y’all an honest answer, it’s basketball.

People don’t realize how much the game really does impact your life, if you choose to play the sport. It’s given me the strength, patience, and maturity that I needed growing up. With the relationships I’ve made over so many years it’s truly become more than just a sport.

Needless to say I’m having one of the worst years of my life … and not having basketball there is hard. Yes I know the NBA is on a hiatus and March Madness is canceled, but for the last two and half years I’ve been dealing with a knee problem that’s kept me sidelined. Injuries are real and will set you back much further than your recovery time. Remember that. An injury hurts you physically and mentally. I used to twitch every time I would be watching on the sidelines because I was so eager to get onto the court and to compete against everyone. I would play in the winter, stay up until 1 in the morning playing, and even skip class to go to the court (sorry mom).

Two years ago I lost all that. Started to put myself in my room and not want to do anything . Started watching less and less of basketball and most importantly was mentally exhausted. I was afraid to get hurt again and had people tell me, “it’s all in your head”, or, “it takes time you will be back in no time”. The truth is, I wasn’t all in my head and it’s been two years and I haven’t felt like myself at all.

I went down with the knee injury in July of 2018, the summer before my senior year of college. I took a jump stop and immediately felt my knee give out and hyper-extend. I fell to the ground and had that feeling when you just know something isn’t right. Normally I get right up and not want anyone to feel bad for me or clap because I got injured but I just couldn’t pull myself to do that this time. In that moment I broke. I had memories of Derrick Rose and Brandon Roy go through their injuries and remember how Rose felt that night. Or how Gordon Hayward’s facial expression was the minute he landed. In a blink of an eye my confidence was stripped from me like the Giants.

The thing was, I didn’t have the best health care and was scared to check myself into a hospital because I didn’t have the money to pay up front for a visit. It’s crazy that what we are going through now with the healthcare system is what I’ve always been dealing with. I didn’t have the luxury of having an on-call doctor or insurance that would cover any treatment I desired. So I took myself to a minute clinic where the doctor told me I had nothing to worry about, gave me crutches and a brace and said, “Ice it and you will be good to go by September”.

“Ice it … and you’ll be good to go by September.

Being the oblivious person I am, I was ecstatic to hear the news. I rushed home, rested for the remainder of the summer and had been pumped to start my senior year of rugby, the biggest year of my life. It was the year I’d talk to my teammates Nabil and Chad about for hours. I was coming off of one of my best seasons in my career that earned me a “C” on my chest that season. I was a leader on the field, and to some guys off of it as well. Even being a big part of my community at Lasell joining numerous clubs, organizations, and kept my nose in the books.I was eager to get things back to the way they were and to assure everyone that I’d be the same player/person I was before.

September 5th, 2018 I remember like it was yesterday. NBA 2k19 had come out the day prior and I remember how exhausted I was when I woke up 15 minutes before practice (as most college athletes do). I took the headphones out of my ears, and the controller dropped from my lap as I got up to get changed. I was worry free on my walk across campus thinking about what the doctor had told me months prior, hearing my teammates hype me up for the season, and my parents being excited to come see me play.

Coach Ricky called for a cone drill. For those who don’t know, cones are set up on the field and you run up and shift to a stutter step followed by a shuffle and then back peddle. I ran up and the minute I changed direction at a high velocity my knee gave out and the same feeling I felt that day at the court was the same feeling I felt then. I hobbled off to the field, called my girl to come pick me up, and we went to the emergency room. The doctor wanted X-Rays done and the minute the results came back she said “no major injuries here, just some swelling that should go down with ice” I walked out of the hospital that day and felt a big sense of uncertainty fulfill my body.

September 16th, 2018 is a day that I couldn’t control my emotions for the first time in my life. My beautiful and amazing girlfriend who I am still with today hadn’t been feeling the best for the past week. She had told me the night before how she didn’t want to go to work because she didn’t feel well. She would drive an hour to see me while I was at college and would sleep over and would always have to leave at 3am to be at work for 4. When she left it was just like any other day, until about 7 am when she called me to say she threw up at work and was in the bathroom for a while. She drove all the way to my campus, picked me up, and I drove her to the hospital.

When we arrived we didn’t know what to say but we were positive it wasn’t something serious. The doctor told me to wait outside for a minute and those were the longest 5 minutes of my life. As the doctor told me to come in I got up from my seat and my whole mouth got numb. It was one of those feelings where your body is moving but you don’t realize how you are because you don’t feel anything. I peeled over the curtain to meet my girlfriend’s expressionless face.

When I heard the words, “I’m pregnant”, my first reaction was to cry but they were good tears. I looked at her and said “I’ll be there for you no matter what, nothing will change that”. From that point on, my life changed forever and the thought of getting back on a healthy schedule to recover from my injury went out the window.

I remember walking into the team meeting and asking to talk to my friend Nick Carlino in private. Carlino is a very built and stocky dude who has a heart of gold, but he intimidated me a little because he was a workhorse, and more importantly we were captains a season ago together , after which I had lost my “C” to someone else. I felt like telling him I couldn’t play rugby for the rest of the year wouldn’t make me look great. I didn’t want to let my team down even if I couldn’t play a single game that season. I ended up saying I had to handle some things for a little bit to make it seem like I was coming back soon, but I knew by the way he looked at me he knew that I was gone.

I had to leave my editor position with the college paper, drop out from my internship, and ultimately leave campus. 

The one thing I tried to hold onto the most was the Student Alumni Association. I joined back when I was a freshman when no one really knew what it was about. I saw about 6 people in a room with suits on, looked at my friend Evan and said, “Why not give this a shot?”. Looking back I miss Evan a lot, he never showed a lot of emotion but I always went to him for advice or to vent. It was almost a no brainer to join something so out of his interest range.

Through the SAA I saw myself grow and mature. It taught me to be professional and aware of the world around me. I managed to grow within the organization and was the Vice President of Communications for two years; one of them being my senior year.Already I left basketball, rugby, writing, and a campus I had fallen in love with. I tried so hard to hold onto the SAA but it became too much.

I walked into my advisors office that day and froze before I got to the stairs. Kelsey Brogna had been a mentor to me and was more than just an advisor. She knew my older sister so it instantly felt like a brother/sister type of relationship, but was professional and business-like at the same time. When I had no one to turn to I knew I could always talk to her. I knew she wouldn’t judge me. She’s not at Lasell anymore, but that’s one of the many reasons I chose the college over others. I actually felt like I mattered, felt like an individual rather than a number. I proceeded to walk through the door and just sat down and didn’t look at her for a minute. After o had told her everything that was going on she offered all the help in the world and during a time in my life where I felt alone I didn’t at that moment. She was there for me and I can’t thank her enough for that.

I still think about the “what if’s” I could’ve had during my senior year. I drove myself crazy every night because of it. I felt like I left without really saying anything to anyone but I didn’t want people to look at me differently. 

For those of you who have read this far are probably thinking my girlfriend forced me to make all these decisions but she was the one who told me to continue everything and wanted me to have a normal senior year, but for the first time in my life things were out of my control. To know that I have someone like my girlfriend by my side is something I wish everyone can experience; Love. 

Fast forward to now, where I’m not in a career involving Journalism, raising a beautiful daughter, but more importantly hurt my knee…..again. This time I missed a step on an 8-foot ladder, felt my knee wobble, and heard a crack. The feeling I’ve seemed to be getting a lot lately came back again. 

7 Months prior I went into Physical Therapy. Went for 6 weeks and even completed the sessions with ease. My therapist said you should start to see improvement and that I could get back to playing basketball. When I told him that my knee didn’t feel stable he brushed over the subject. I had two more appointments and never showed up to them. 

As an athlete, or a person you are the only one who knows your body. When something is up trust your gut. I wish I did. Now I’m sitting here in quarantine with my Meniscus hanging on by a thread and no ACL, while waiting for surgery, out of work, and a recovery time that is going to set me back more than I would like it to. Whenever I do end up getting surgery I will have to wear a long brace for six weeks following the surgery, with an added nine to twelve month recovery period keeping me sidelined for well over a year. Writing this now it seems like you could make a movie and just now I realize how hard this was to even put into words.

My point is never take things for granted, listen to your body, and always be aware of what’s around you. As for me I’ll get back to where I want to be one day, but like Joel Embiid says “Trust the Process”




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