Volume 96, Issue 67
Wednesday, January 29, 2003

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When love isn't enough

By Jordan Bell
Gazette Staff

Joel Brown/Gazette
A LONG TIME AGO IN A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY. Mustang Nick Salomons cuts down the nets after a Wilson Cup championship in his rookie season of 2000/2001.

The heat of competition and the love of the game are conditions the members of the Mustangs men's basketball team enjoy each and every Wednesday and Saturday on game day. But one solitary member, by some devilish force of bad luck, is forced to wither away on the bench.

Nick Salomons has endured pain, agony and probably worst of all, the smell of fresh pine, too many times.

Salomons, a 6'6" power forward from the nearby town of Strathroy, tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the summer after his rookie season, and throughout the last two years has gone down time and again to injury. Just when things seem to be coming together, the light at the end of Salomons's tunnel quickly blacks out in a heap of torn ligaments.

"It's so hard to see it happen to a guy who has worked as hard as he has," said Western point guard and captain Jimmy Grozelle. "Even if we lose, at least we got to play."

Time seems to stop in Alumni Hall when Salomons hits the deck and the Mustangs faithful crowd hold their collective breath. Knee injuries for Salomons are as consistent as trips to the dentist.

During Salomons' rookie season, everything seemed to be on the up and up. He was a fresh young gipper helping the Mustangs' stacked deck reach the National Championship in Halifax, garnering selection to the Ontario University Athletics all-rookie team.

Unfortunately, the "powers that be" work in mysterious ways and Salomons's career was snatched away faster than a blonde at Jim Bob's on a Saturday night. He was told by doctors he tore the triad, a combination of the ACL, the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and the meniscus, and most recently went down against the GT Express in an exhibition game over the holidays.

"He could be the big man we need," Grozelle explained. "I have no doubt he would be a league all-star if he was able to play this season."

Despite his hard luck, Salomons isn't into self-pity.

"You can't start looking at yourself as a victim," the well-spoken Salomons calmly explained. "Once you get into the mentality of 'why me?', you've already beaten yourself. You become too protective of yourself."

However, to the trained eye, it's obvious that Salomons's psyche has been affected by the constant pounding on his knee. The formerly ruthless and athletic front-court threat plays more gingerly and within himself, surely a result of the injuries and his time spent on the sidelines.

"When you come back, it takes a long time to trust your knee again," Salomons said. "You do things differently. It never comes back 100 per cent though."

The one bright spot in Salomons's excruciating story is that he has only used up one year of eligibility. In Canadian Interuniversity Sport rules, a player must play two regular season games to lose a year of eligibility and Salomons has only played one game the past two years.

"You can't just give up," Salomons said. "It's very frustrating because you work so hard to come back. But it's all worth it when you finally get back to playing."

Here's to hoping – better yet, praying – the dentist doesn't come calling again.


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