Tuesday, February 7, 2017

VCU's Camille Calhoun talks about enduring an ACL tear again

"Not again. Not again. Not again."

Lying on the Siegel Center floor, Camille Calhoun kept repeating the words. The VCU senior guard knew from the moment her knee didn't move with her body that this was indeed "again."

Another ACL tear to her left knee. She had played all of one whole game since the last ACL tear.

The first time, she felt her knee buckle while going up for a layup against Arizona State on Dec. 5, 2015, the seventh game of the Rams' season. As bad as it hurt, she wasn't sure it was an ACL as she had never had that type of injury before.

But there was a pop. "I was just in so much pain," she recalled.

The ensuing rehab, she said, was harder than she expected.

"A lot more went into it when I thought," she said. "I lived on the underwater treadmill for six months."

She couldn't wait to play in 2016 -- especially against the coach that recruited her to VCU, Marlene Stollings. Now with Minnesota, Stollings brought her Gophers to the Siegel Center for the second game of this season on Nov. 15 when Calhoun's knee gave way again.

This time she was on defense, sliding one way. Her knee didn't cooperate.

"I didn't feel an initial pop, but I knew it was an ACL," she said.

Initial tests were inconclusive, but ultimately they confirmed "again." Calhoun had surgery Dec. 27 and is going through the same process she went through last year.

"It sucked because I just come back," she said. "I just did this. Now I have to do it all over again."

As crushing as a second ACL is, Calhoun knows what to expect throughout her rehab and is fully aware of the milestones she needs to hit. Positivity is important. So is developing outside interests. Calhoun now has time to volunteer more; her pet causes include the SPCA and a Richmond homeless shelter.

She's also completed internships, one with emergency management for VCU Police and another with Kings Dominion security (her favorite ride is the Intimidator, btw, which would be the steel rollercoaster).

This time, the 6-foot Calhoun is more attune to her weight. She has also learned that extra pounds aren't a good idea. She put too many on the first time. "I put on a good 30 pounds, and so far I've lost 21 of those," she said. "I make sure I'm eating right. My left knee can't handle all that weight."

Calhoun didn't take part in the Rams' senior night last week. Already graduated, she's aiming for a master's in homeland security and emergency preparedness with an eye toward working for federal law enforcement.

She wants to play again. She's planning on it.

"I can't go out like this," she said. "Freshman year I struggled the entire way through. By sophomore year I started to pick up a bit and thought, 'Now I can play my brand of basketball.' Junior year my mentality was, 'My year.' I didn't realize it was my year to sit down. That's why I definitely want to play.

"I'm looking to come back better than ever. I've tried to stay positive. What else can you really do?"

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