Gasser returns to assist Southridge title runFebruary 20, 2020
By JONATHAN SAXON
HUNTINGBURG — Camden Gasser has essentially been playing the past couple of sports seasons one-handed. Though the junior guard has missed the past two months of basketball after having surgery on Dec. 19 to repair torn ligaments in his right thumb, Gasser revealed that the initial injury dates back to December 2018 when the Southridge Raiders were playing in the Access Storage Holiday Hoops Classic.
“We were doing some drills. I went to reach for a ball and I just felt it,” Gasser said. “It almost popped out of place, it just felt off. I went over to the coaching staff and it just looked awful.”
Gasser went to the emergency room, and it was determined that his thumb was not broken after receiving an X-ray and other tests. So Gasser just decided to tape it up and keep on playing. He played through an extended run to state with the baseball team and a sectional finals appearance with the football team, making whatever adjustments were necessary to keep himself on the field.
“It wasn’t fun,” he admitted. “I learned how to manage. I’m a receiver in football, so catching the ball wasn’t always the easiest. In basketball, I tried to dribble with my left hand more than my right. I tried to fight through the pain and dealt with it as well as I could. As time progressed, it just got to the point where I couldn’t do it anymore.”
An MRI with a specialist in Indianapolis finally showed the tears in Gasser’s thumb and his surgery followed soon after. The best-case scenario had Gasser missing most of the Raiders’ basketball season, but he had a chance to make it back before sectional. The other option would have seen Gasser miss a good portion of his senior football season, which was a sacrifice he wasn’t willing to make. On Tuesday, he was finally cleared to play in the team’s last two regular-season games.
“A breath of fresh air is what I view this as,” Raiders coach Mark Rohrer said. “You see with certain guys a little bit of weight lifted off their shoulders to where they’re not feeling like they have to do everything. But something that’s important is that when we add these guys back, it’s not just time to relax.”
Gasser did his best to remain a positive asset for his teammate through the surgery and his rehab. Experiencing the ups and downs of a season from the bench isn’t something Gasser was used to. But he was able to adjust and turn himself into another voice the team could turn to for guidance and advice during games.
“It was a transition because you’re not on the court,” he said. “But the thing I learned pretty quickly is I can make a difference by teaching some of the younger guys, or if there’s something I see from the floor I could try to say ‘Hey, do this different.’ I almost turned into another coach.”
Rohrer is excited for the ball-handling and passing dynamic Gasser can add back to the Raiders’ offense, but he also knows that, even with the short window, there’s going to be an adjustment period to integrating him back into the fold. The key is to not become frustrated if it doesn’t all come back to Gasser at one time.
“There’s going to be small moments of failure,” Rohrer said. “You miss a shot, have a turnover or your guy scores. We want to be able to learn from those, and for him it’s maybe more important than anybody else, right when you get back from that long of a stretch. You’re going to have rust. The number one thing for him is understanding it’s not just going to be perfect right away.”
Perfection is not the immediate concern for Gasser, at least not in the wake of getting cleared to play. He’s just happy to be in position to actively support his team again, and he’s looking forward to giving them whatever boost he can on their final push to March.
“There’s still risk, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take to try and help us win a sectional,” Gasser said. “It starts at practice. We want to grow as a team, get the chemistry back and go make a run for it.”
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