Baldwin Wallace Junior Nancy Coulter Proves the Best Remedy for an Injury is a Positive Outlook
By: Brett O’Connor ‘12
BEREA, OHIO – Baldwin Wallace University red-shirt junior women’s basketball forward Nancy Coulter (Washington Court House/ Miami Trace) is truly a basketball player with the scars to prove it
Like many student-athletes, Coulter has faced her share of injuries and setbacks. But how she’s responded to those challenges is what distinguishes her from many others. An important part of her promising future is building on the challenges of her past.
A year ago, Coulter’s promising season ended in the seventh game when she suffered a serious injury that required surgery. It was her second serious injury as a basketball student-athlete.
“I knew instantly that it wasn’t good,” said Coulter. “My teammates kept saying that maybe you just tore your meniscus [and that she could continue to play despite the injury], but I knew my season was over.”
And unfortunately she was right. Coulter found out soon after she was helped off the court at Wilmington College that she had a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Due to the timing of the injury, she will receive another year of eligibility if she chooses to utilize it.
“I was really lucky [in terms of the timing of the injury],” said Coulter, who will lead the 5-2 overall Yellow Jackets into a 2:00 p.m. game this Saturday (December 10) at 5-0 and undefeated Wilmington. “If I’d gotten hurt in the next game, this (the 2011-12 season) would be the last year I could play.” Fans can listen to all of the action of BW’s men’s and women’s doubleheader versus Wilmington on campus radio station WBW, 88.3 FM, and via the WBW Internet web site at www.wBW.com.
Coulter is Averaging 8.1 Points
and 4.4 Rebounds Per Contest
It’s a testament to Coulter’s love of playing basketball that she could see the injury in a positive way. But, if you know Coulter, her view is not surprising.
“Nancy is such a positive person,” said 22-year Head Coach Cheri Harrer. “She always looks for the positives. She’s definitely a cup’s half full type of young woman.”
The Yellow Jackets salvaged the 2009-10 campaign by rallying around the remaining veterans and young players to produced a successful 18-8 season.
“The other girls had to step up and without question they did,” said second-year Assistant Coach Alyson Campbell, the 2011 OAC Women’s Golf Coach of the Year and a former Harrer basketball standout. “But we missed Nancy out there. I think we grew from it as a team and so did Nancy.”
“It was challenging,” said Coulter, a health and physical education major who would like to teach and coach following graduation. “I love basketball and I wanted to be out there with my teammates.”
Before the medical diagnosis was even decided, Coulter began anticipating her schedule for the year: -- a challenging season on the sideline, then surgery and rehabilitation, more rehab and then training camp this fall. It was a routine she had become all too familiar with.
“It was the other knee in high school,” said Coulter, who enters the Wilmington contest averaging 81. points and 4.4 rebounds per game and leading the team in field goal shooting at 52.5 percent on 21-of-40 attempts.
As a three-sport standout student-athlete at Miami Trace, Coulter felt a pop in her right knee during her freshman year
“It was the last open gym and just before our first official practice,” said Coulter. “I was going up for a rebound and blew out my right ACL. Again, I knew right away that I had hurt it bad.”
For many players, preseason open gyms are usually reserved for games of HORSE and shoot-arounds. But for Coulter and her teammates, basketball is only played at one speed -- fast.
Coulter Also Suffered A Knee Injury
As a Freshman In High School
Coulter overcame her first ACL related injury to become a model student-athlete for the Panthers. As a basketball player, she was All South-Central Ohio League, All District and All Ohio as well as a two-time district qualifier in track. In the classroom, she was a member of the National Honor Society member.
That success was not lost on Harrer, who enters the Wilmington game with 438 career wins and a 438-155 career record.
“We feel that Nancy has the talent and ability to be one of our leaders for the next two seasons” said Harrer. “She is one of our starters again this season and is a presence in the post. She is just beginning to get a bunch of her mobility back, and that is important.”
For the past three-plus seasons, Coulter has been a key member of a Yellow Jacket varsity that has produced a 64-26 record.
As a freshman, Coulter played in all 30 games for the 22-8 overall Yellow Jackets and averaged 2.1 points and 2.8 rebounds per game with 10 blocked shots. She increased those totals to 7.6 ppg., 4.7 rebounds and 18 blocks as sophomore when BW finished 19-7 overall. Then came last season when she was averaging 4.1 ppg., 4.4 rpg. and had 15 blocks in seven games as BW was 18-8 overall.
Despite the quick end to Coulter’s junior season, she continued to contribute to her team’s successes.
“She went to every practice and every game unless she had rehab scheduled,” said Campbell. “She didn’t really have a choice. Nancy was committed to being a team player and to her teammates, and being at practices and games was extremely therapeutic for her and her recovery.”
The BW women have a deep bond and an even deeper passion for basketball. For these players, time away from the game is out of the question, injured or not.
For Coulter, who was still managing her academics and rehab on her knee, it didn’t mean time away from her team, teammates and basketball. It meant elevating her commitment, so she also took on the role of student coach.
“After tearing my ACL and missing the season, I gained a new outlook of the game because I was able to look at everything through ‘coach’s eyes,” said Coulter with a big, wide smile. “It helped me understand the game so much more and it has helped me to be able to think tactically in different situations. It is going to help me a great deal when I finally coach my own team one day.
Coulter Was Determined To Return and
Make and Impact
“I also liked helping the girls in practice as much as possible when I wasn’t doing my rehab,” said Coulter. “It made me continue to be a vital part of my team.”
Coulter embraced her new role but deep down craved to get back on the court. But before she could do that she had to endure a long and trying rehab.
During the school year she juggled her time between team practices and the training room.
“Head Athletic Trainer Andrea Rugely was awesome,” said Coulter. “She was so helpful with everything I went through. She was a great source of strength for me and I appreciate all of her efforts.”
When the winter/ spring semester ended last May, Coulter returned to Washington Court House determined to be ready for the 2011-12 season. Like many Division III athletes, she worked a job in the summer to help pay for school. Unlike many Division III athletes she did this while rehabilitating a torn ACL.
“I worked full time in the summer at Domtar in Washington Court House,” said Coulter. “It was demanding, working 12-hour shifts and doing physical labor consistently. It actually became another session of rehab for me and it definitely helped me increase my strength.
But being at Domtar and back in Washington Courthouse was another part of her successful rehab.
“Domtar is a good place to strengthen your leg,” said Coulter, again smiling. “And, being home in Washington Court House was another ideal place to strengthen my spirit [in addition to being at BW and with her basketball family].”
Tucked away just off the path from Columbus to Cincinnati, Washington Court House is home to a small speck of the Ohio population.
“Rural” is what Coulter calls it, as only someone with a dialect from that small stretch of the state can. A small town which takes its basketball very seriously, Washington Court House is Ohio in every sense of word.
The setting and the support from her family ensured Coulter was back for fall practice as strong as ever.
While another year of school might seem like a burden to some student-athletes, Coulter sees it as an opportunity.
“Due to my major, health and physical education, I will be at BW for a fifth year. If tearing my ACL was going to happen, at least I get that year back and get to make up for it on the court my fifth year.
“I stayed positive through everything and kept a positive lens on my situation,” said Coulter.
Coulter has no problem with discussing the injuries she has sustained. In fact, she is as fearless as when she is driving the lane or crashing the boards. The only subject she stays quiet on is a tough loss.
“I don’t like to talk about it [losses],” said Coulter, who had her first career double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds in a 50-47 victory at Carnegie-Mellon (Pa.) University on Nov. 30. “When or if we lose, I’m just looking to take on the next opponent.”
That next opponent comes Saturday at Wilmington, the where she was helped off the floor last year with the knne injury. A game that should be more stirring for a person with matching scars on her knees. While most competitors would have butterflies before facing an opponent they suffered a serious injury against, Coulter and her teammates face it like they face every game.
“We are so focused on ‘us’ and what we need to do as a team,” said Coulter with passion. “the opponents become faceless at some point.”
The bus ride down I-71 and west on Ohio Route 22 to Wilmington is less than 30 miles from Washington Court House. But it is the 30-mile stretch that has helped to shape Nancy Coulter’s basketball career and character as much as her time shared with her teammates and friends at BW. It has strengthened her every step of the way.
Following its game at Wilmington, Coulter and the Yellow Jackets are idle for a week during Fall Semester Final Exams. BW then returns to action on Saturday, Dec. 17 when it hosts OAC-rival Muskingum University for a 3:00 p.m. game in the Rudolph Ursprung Gymnasium in the Lou Higgins Center.
FOR MORE BW Sports Information, please contact Sports Information Director Kevin Ruple by telephone at 440-826-2327 and e-mail at email@example.com. or Assistant SID Jeff Miller by phone at 440-826-2780 and email at firstname.lastname@example.org Fans can access the latest BW athletics information at www.bw.edu/athletics and we invite you to join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bwyellowjackets and Twitter at http://twitter.com/bwathletics.