DURHAM, N.C. -- Junior forward Oderah Chidom has returned to the court this year after suffering a left shoulder injury a year ago. Chidom first had a slight separated shoulder but as the season went along it got worse and needed surgery to fix the problem. Chidom had her surgery back in February and has gone through physical therapy to get her ready for this season.
Sitting out last season and this summer were a struggle for Chidom. She had never experienced an injury, let alone coming back from one. The road to recovery has been one that took some getting used to.
“It was a little difficult for me to sit on the bench for multiple games and just watch my team play and not be able to physically contribute,” added Chidom.
Chidom even joked that she could play with a sling on her arm and shoot with one hand. Despite her wanting so badly to play, she had to dedicate the proper time to recovery and that is something she says she began to realize towards the end of her physical therapy. Chidom had been out for six months recovering and even though she felt prepared to return she soon realized that physically she was not where she once was.
When she questioned her trainers about returning to the court they explained to her that they were keeping her there for so long because they never wanted to see her there again. Over time she began to appreciate the amount of work it takes to come back from an injury and gives a great deal of credit to the physical therapy team at Duke.
Chidom also found comfort in her fellow Blue Devils who were going through the same things as her.
“During my recovery, I had a couple of athletes at Duke that had been injured and done the whole process and come back stronger than ever.” commented Chidom.
This gave her motivation to stay dedicated to her recovery and give it her everything.
Chidom also spoke of how her coaches gave her the confidence she needed. “An athlete’s biggest fear is that the coaches will forget about you and push you to the side and I was so happy that didn’t happen. My coaches asked me for my input and still made me feel like I was a part of the team.”
Head coach, Joanne P. McCallie, has high expectations for her players, injured or not. She said, “As a coach I’m in the business of developing people, whether they’re active or not, it doesn’t matter. I’m trying to develop these minds and develop powerful women who can think clearly and can be leaders at and beyond Duke.”
Chidom learned a lot from her coaches while sitting out and gained a new respect for them. She saw firsthand what it’s like to watch from the sidelines. She would observe things and give her teammates advice but they didn’t always execute things the way she had suggested. It was in those moments she understood where her coaches were coming from when they would get frustrated with her and her teammates.
So far this season Chidom has performed well. She is getting back into the swing of things and stepping up her game. Her injury has healed physically, but at the beginning of the season she felt that the mental scars held her back at times. Many of the plays for her position as a forward involve lifting her arms above her shoulder; the same way she injured herself initially.
On the year, Chidom has played in all 12 contests averaging 7.3 points and 6.3 rebounds. She has started seven games and her 6.3 rebounds ranks second on the Blue Devil squad.
Chidom admits to being scared but says that she’s gained more confidence in herself the more she plays. The 6-4 post is used to a specific training schedule throughout the year and taking a six month break from that routine has forced her to develop at a different pace than she’s used to.
Coming back from an injury can take its toll on any student-athlete. With the proper staff and training the Blue Devils have been able to bring back many of their players over the years. Chidom wants to prove to herself, and everyone else, that she is a phenomenal basketball player who can triumph over adversity, and so far she is doing just that.
After the Christmas holiday, Duke will return to action against Western Carolina Dec. 29 at 7 p.m., in Cameron Indoor Stadium.