WINSTON-SALEM - During a timeout, North Carolina A&T guard Amber Calvin
walked into the A&T huddle during the Aggies quarterfinals of the MEAC
Women's Basketball Tournament game on March 8 against Coppin State and began to slump.
Eventually, her body began to fold like a chair as her
teammates tried to prevent her from collapsing to the floor. Calvin could
barely support her weight. It was only
minutes earlier when the redshirt sophomore guard out of Fayetteville, N.C.,
moved to the point guard position and ignited a comeback that saw the Aggies go from 23
points down with 16 minutes remaining to five points ahead with 3:09 to play.
During the Aggies incredible and frantic comeback during
that 13-minute span, Calvin scored 15 of her game-high 26 points. Therefore, to
see Calvin rushed to take a seat on the Aggies bench sent concern, fear and
doubt throughout the Aggies fan base assembled at Lawrence Joel Coliseum.
But to think Amber Calvin would just sit the rest of the
game is to not know Amber Calvin. Calvin, who had visible scratches on her nose
after the hard-fought contest, told the media during the postgame press
conference her issue during the game was fatigue.
Fatigue? Is that all? Considering what Calvin has been
through before the age of 21, it is easy to understand why after sitting out
one play, she asked to come back into the game. Calvin has torn her ACL three
times - once in her left knee and twice in her right. The first time she
injured her knee was her junior season at South View High School.
The injury in her left knee frightened some of the higher
level Division I schools. A&T never stopped recruiting, something she still
appreciates to this day. Calvin's second knee injury occurred in her right knee
during the Aggies magical run through the WNIT in 2010. As a freshman, Calvin
drove toward the basket against the University of Miami, only to feel her knee
buckle. The Aggies' season came to an end that day as the Hurricanes advanced
in the tournament.
The timing of Calvin's injury was the sunshine in an otherwise
gloomy situation. But as Calvin rehabbed and prepared for the 2010-11 season,
she re-injured her right knee, forcing her to miss the season.
"It's been real tough, but when you love something so
much, you keep going back to it," said Calvin about her love affair with
basketball. "I'm just really thankful to be able to play a complete, full
season without too many complications. I'm happy about the way things turned
Calvin, who averaged 13.6 points and 4.0 assists per
game, did miss two games this season. She didn't play in the Aggies game at
Georgia Tech on Dec. 29 and at Howard on Jan. 14. In both instances, Calvin sat
out to rest her knees.
"With Amber, she's going to give it to you," said Bibbs. "She doesn't fear anything or she doesn't
fear anyone. It's awesome that's she's
playing. Usually a player with three ACL
surgeries, they don't play anymore. But
this kid fights. She's in there every
day, she's practicing and she's doing it.
She's a great player. She didn't
give up. That's what I admire about her
as a player."
Bibbs also admires the great rehabilitation work that was
done for Calvin during the summer. Both women believe Calvin needed to have
outstanding rehab sessions over the summer in order to further her career. She
did. The rehab was so good, it alleviated a lot of fears Calvin had about being
able to play the game she loves.
"After the second one on my right knee, I did get down,"
said Calvin, who still has two years of eligibility remaining. "They basically made it seem like I wouldn't be able to play
anymore. I wasn't going to take no for an answer."
Calvin, who describes herself as a comedian, suddenly got
serious about her future. "They were
going to fix me up, and I was going to try again," said Calvin, who also took
her academics seriously as she had a better than 3.0 grade point average during
the fall semester.
There were doubts as to whether Calvin could return to
the form that helped the Aggies advance two rounds in the WNIT. On occasions,
there are still worries about how Calvin's knees are faring under the rigors of
a 30-plus game schedule. With her grades improving and the Aggies young team
maturing, Calvin can't worry about a potential fourth knee injury, however. She
can't cope as a player with that mentality.
"My knees don't even cross my mind when I'm playing,"
said Calvin. "I've been told it's more mental than physical. If you think you're
going to get hurt, you're going to get hurt."
There are times when Calvin is a little hesitant on the
floor, she admits. Once her adrenaline gets going, she feels like she can
perform like the Amber Calvin pre knee surgeries. She is so appreciative to be playing
again, a little fatigue and a couple of scratches on the nose, is not going to
keep Calvin from performing.