Injury alters Aldridge's look at the future
Earlier this fall, Dr. Randa Ryan was checking her voice mail and heard someone familiar. The tone of the caller's voice was one of concern . . . and one of contrition.
The voice belonged to LaMarcus Aldridge, sophomore post man on the men's basketball team.
Seems he was late for class. Not too late you understand, but late nonetheless.
"Even if it is five minutes, he calls and leaves a message," said Ryan, senior associate athletics director for student services. "He wanted to let me know and he apologized."
Not that she was pleased about Aldridge being late for class, but she was pleased because he notified her and apologized. She was pleased because he knew it mattered.
"That young man," Ryan began, talking about Aldridge, "has taken on his academic responsibility. It has been great to watch him work. To see his seriousness about his class work is rewarding. He takes good notes in class and he comes to study hall with a great attitude."
Math professor Corrine Irwin has seen that attitude in Aldridge and can't say enough about the 6-foot-10 Seagoville High School alum.
"He is one of the nicest students I've ever had," said Irwin. "And I'm not just talking about athletes. I'm talking about all students. When the class first met, he introduced himself and he sat in the front row. He is on time and always speaks to me."
Aldridge admitted that he, as many students do, found the transition from high school to college most challenging.
"It was a big adjustment," he said, emphasizing the 'big' and giving a nod of his head as he spoke.
"I went to a small public school and it wasn't that hard," he continued. "If you fell behind a little bit, you could catch up. Not here. You have to always do your work. You have to stay on top of it."
Aldridge's adjustment period had additional stress a year ago when he suffered what turned out to be a season-ending hip injury Jan. 15 against Nebraska.
"When all of that occurred, I didn't know what to expect from him," said Ryan. "But he did fine. In a sense, the injury helped his school performance. For the first time, he couldn't get the satisfaction, the recognition from basketball. Now, he was getting it from his school work."
Aldridge credited Ryan with helping to instill a positive attitude in him towards his studies, giving him confidence because she believed in him.
And he said that the injury reinforced his desire to get his degree.
"When I got hurt, it showed me how basketball could be over in a minute," he said. "While I knew that, the injury really showed me that. It made me aware that basketball was not something I could count on.
"My degree -- that's something I can count on."