Volume 91, Issue 59
Wednesday, January 14, 1998
Meet captain comeback
THE NEW GILETTE SPORTS STICK POSTER BOY. Western's Brad Campbell takes a jump shot over a Laurentian player in men's preseason basketball action.
By Alex Chiang
The worst knee injury Western men's basketball coach Craig Boydell had ever seen was the damage inflicted on Brad Campbell in a preseason game at the University of Victoria in November, 1992.
Expectations were high for Campbell after the Ottawa native formed a formidable one-two-three punch along with guard Brendan Noonan and forward Mike Lynch in the 1991-92 campaign, Campbell's rookie season. However, the six-foot-three-inch, 210-pound forward never got the opportunity to build on his early success when he tore both his posterior and anterior cruciat ligament in his left knee, a mere five games into the preseason.
The injury was the result of a mid-air collision with an opposing player from Victoria which sent him crashing to the ground in an awkward position. Although Campbell would miss the rest of the season, the men's basketball governors of the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union granted Campbell's appeal to not have a year of eligibility counted against him in light of the injury being sustained so early in the season.
It took Campbell close to a year to get back onto the hard court after months of rehabilitation. Since then, Campbell has had five surgeries performed on his knee and only has about 30 per cent of the cartilage left in it. It hampered Campbell's ability to play and, as a result, he was in and out of the Mustang lineup from 1993 to 1995.
"Coming back the first time was difficult because you're so eager to play and you don't think rationally about if you're ready physically," Campbell said. "What's most frustrating is knowing that you're not going to be the same player you were before."
Campbell declined to play out the 1995-96 campaign, choosing instead to concentrate on his teaching and coaching career. He became an assistant coach on the Western sideline and worked with the senior boys' and girls' basketball teams at Banting Secondary School in London. This season, he was initially slated to spend a second term on the Mustang coaching staff, but Campbell opted to play out his fourth year of eligibility.
"I was thinking about playing again all summer," Campbell said. "I felt that this will be the last time I'll be in university and that I never had a chance to leave on my own terms."
Although Boydell was surprised when Campbell first told him of his decision to play this season, he was excited at the possibility. Boydell highlighted Campbell's versatility, play-making skills and rebounding ability as his greatest assets.
"He's not as mobile as he used to be [but] he can get shots off when he doesn't look like he can and he's a guy who can make the offence happen," Boydell said. "It's a benefit because he understands the system. He's played with it before and he's coached it."
Boydell added that Campbell offers some valuable experience to the Western squad. Thus far, his comeback appears to be a success, as he led all scorers in the Mustangs season opener with 25 points.
Campbell admits that even though he has had to overcome adversity since he sustained his injury, he doesn't think about his knee while on the court and his greatest motivation remains the same to win the CIAU title.
"I knew [Western] was going to be a good team," he said. "I probably wouldn't have come back if I knew this team didn't have a chance at winning a national championship."
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