Overcoming setbacks is a part of life. Some are always easier than others, but we all have them.
North Daviess junior guard Alex Wittmer has certainly experienced setbacks in his athletic career. In fact, he's had to overcome two.
Wittmer has been back with the Cougars for three games, and scored 11 points in North Daviess¹ last game at Shakamak last Friday. He had missed the opening 10 games with what became not one surgery, but two.
It's a long story that Wittmer and Cougar basketball fans hope has a happy ending. Wittmer was experiencing pain in his left knee as the basketball season progressed last winter, and was considering having the problem checked. As basketball changed to baseball, the pain disappeared.
But when Wittmer returned to the basketball court, that old feeling in the knee returned. It appeared to be a structural problem from birth. Apparently the softer surface of dirt made the injury seem non existent. When he returned to the hardwood, the pain came along.
Doctors suggested surgery would probably not be needed if Wittmer was not playing. It was something that he could possibly live with. Obviously, that was not a choice for the guard. Surgery was needed.
"I was kind of confused and frustrated a bit," Wittmer said of having the pain return. "I was really frustrated because I thought the problem was taken care of." A procedure was done, and the junior believed he would return to the court in late October. But a final check on the knee showed that muscles attached to the knee had not healed as expected, causing a second trip to the operating room.
That meant Wittmer would miss a good part of the season. He dressed for the Graber Post Tournament in late December, but did not play until the Cougars started their regular season again in January.
"I didn¹t think it was unusual for your knees to be sore while you're playing basketball," Wittmer said. "I think getting on the soft grass playing baseball -- it's not a hard floor. In baseball, you¹re not doing a lot of running, you're not constantly putting pressure on the knee with cutting. After a little bit, it just went away." While both procedures went well, Wittmer said it was difficult to recover a second time.
"It's been challenging trying to keep positive," Wittmer said. "I've tried to take it one day at a time, one week at a time. I've tried to improve and keep getting better. When I found out I needed a second surgery, I had to gather my thoughts. It took some time to get my mind right." North Daviess coach Brent Dalrymple said he's glad to have Wittmer back. He thinks the junior will add another piece for the Cougars, especially as Wittmer experiences more playing time.
"He¹'s worked really hard and done the things he has needed to," Dalrymple said. "It's not easy to sit and watch your friends play and know that you could be out there too. We know that he adds more to our team. He knows how to play the game, and that he adds another dimension to our team." Wittmer hopes he can benefit a team that has certainly shown signs of being a tournament threat in the always difficult Class A Sectional 63.
"I keep feeling better each week," Wittmer said. "I just want to win. I want to come in and do what the team needs to win."