Pain, injuries fail to deter hoopster

Senior forward Deidra Bateman’s heart must have four extra chambers to guzzle the boatloads of intestinal fortitude flowing through her body.

The 5-foot-10-inch, Gadsden, Ala., native simply has more heart than the average basketball player because it’s overflowing with an immense love for the game.

Bateman has endured four knee surgeries, a season-ending back injury and most recently two seizures.

She also has arthritis and tendinitis in her knees and when the weather changes or it rains, they usually swell up.

“The doctor told me that I have the knees of a 60-year-old,” Bateman said.

Despite all these afflictions, including the knees of a senior citizen, Bateman is still preparing to play with her teammates this weekend in their season opener at the Eastern Michigan tournament.

This will be her last chance to play a full season. Her three previous seasons were halted due to injury.

“This is my last year and it don’t matter what happens, I am going to play this year regardless,” Bateman said.

Niki Washington, first year assistant coach, said Bateman is amazing.

“I’ve had one (knee surgery) and I stopped playing after that,” Washington said.

A week ago, Bateman’s future as a Rattlerette seemed meek.

This quick, athletic warrior didn’t play in the Rattlerettes’ first exhibition win over Albany State on Nov. 10.

She was still waiting for clearance to play because earlier in the semester she had two unexpected seizures during a practice.

A blow to the temple caused the first seizure.

When the paramedics arrived and placed her on a stretcher, she had a second seizure.

“When I got to the hospital, I was wondering why I was in there,” Bateman said.

Wednesday she was cleared to practice and play in Saturday’s 64-46 win in exhibition over Valdosta State.

Bateman played for 25 minutes, scored four points while taking four shots, grabbed five rebounds and had two steals.

“She has never played a full season yet since I’ve been here, so now that she has the opportunity, she is going to play with a lot of emotion,” said junior guard Tanise Thomas.

A product of Gadsden High School, Bateman was named all-state, all-region and all-area, all four years in high school.

She has battled through debilitating injuries throughout her basketball career.

After tearing her anterior cruciate ligament in a tournament in 11th grade and having reconstructive knee surgery, Bateman recovered well enough to earn a scholarship to FAMU.

Bateman said she injured herself sometime early in her freshman season in 1999 but forced herself to play through it.

As the number of games she played added up, so did the pain.

“It (the pain) started getting to the point in which I couldn’t handle it anymore, that’s when I had to get it checked,” Bateman said.

She was told she had torn her meniscus in her knee on both sides.

Bateman had orthoscopic knee surgery Jan. 1, 2000, returned prematurely in three weeks and ended up playing in 18 of 28 games.

Her sophomore year ended early due to a lower back strain. Out of 27 games, she played in nine and started in seven.

“She played about 11 games with pain and the games that she played, she was very productive for us,” said head coach Debra Clark about Bateman’s junior year.

At the end of the season, Bateman had orthoscopic surgery on both knees as she had cracked bones, torn lateral ligaments and another torn meniscus.

These are just a few of the injuries that plagued her knees at the time.

Incredibly, after all four of those knee surgeries, she is still doing what she loves – playing the game of basketball.

Off the court, Bateman has changed her major from psychology to criminal justice.

She wants to focus on the sociological aspect of criminal justice and become a counselor.

When asked what she would tell children in respect to what she’s been through, Bateman said, “There are going to be a lot of obstacles, trials and tribulations in your way, (and) if you want to overcome them, you can.”