Chism anxious to resume play

By David Lance

Soyini Chism has her fingers crossed.

The 6-0 sophomore has been on the NIU women’s basketball team’s roster for the last two seasons, but she has yet to see much time on the court.

Chism tore her right anterior cruciate ligament in practice in 1989 and was red-shirted for the season. Last year, she tore her left one before the regular season started. She sat out the whole year.

After spending the last three years rehabilitating, the Lindblom Tech High School product is back to practicing with the team. So far, all has gone smoothly for the center.

“I did a lot of running,” Chism said. “They’re fixed. I trust the doctor. I don’t worry about injuring my knees. They still give me a lot of pain, but it’s just something I have to deal with.

“I did a lot of rehab, a lot of lifting weights. The best part was watching (NIU) win games. That kept me in it. My teammates were very supportive and so was the coaching staff. They kept my head up.”

The encouragements didn’t always cheer Chism up.

“The first year was really frustrating, it was really hard,” Chism said. “The second year, it was a lot of hard work. It was frustrating not playing, but I just figured I’d get through it. I didn’t have any more knees to injure.”

NIU head coach Jane Albright-Dieterle noticed Chism’s anguish and lauds her for her persistence.

“To come back from one knee rehabilitation is really a very hard thing to ask of anybody,” Albright-Dieterle said.

“When everybody else was working on their skills and getting stronger in every area of their body, she was learning to walk again and learning to bend her knee just for functional purposes.”

This season, Albright-Dieterle wants Chism to concentrate on strengthening her knees.

“I think she’s going to be a very excellent player for us,” Albright-Dieterle said. “She’s got a lot of bright things ahead.

“This year, she’s going to have to learn the system. I think her role will be to get stronger and stronger because she has a lot of natural talent. The stronger she gets, the better she’ll be for us.”

Chism isn’t making scoring and rebounding predictions. She only wants to fit in.

“This is just my first year,” Chism said. “I just want to contribute in any way I can.”