Falcon gingerly dips toe back on court
Basketball: Foothills Noah Wilkie recovering from freak injury
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 16, 2013 01:03 pm
A Foothills Falcon missed the entire boys volleyball season and the first month of basketball because he is just too nice of a guy.
Noah Wilkie broke the big toe on his left foot when he was helping clear a gymnasium tarp on the first day of volleyball practice in the fall. A cart holding the tarps fell on his toe.
“Noah was just being himself — he always put everything before himself,” Falcons basketball coach Amron Gwilliam said. “He actually stepped in front of (the cart) to hold it up. When he realized he couldn’t hold it up he jumped out of the way and it landed on his toe.
“The reason he wanted to hold it up is because we had just finished our gym floor and he didn’t want to see it wrecked.”
The incident wrecked Wilkie’s entire volleyball season. He had to get surgery and had his walking boot removed in early December. However, at first he thought he could shake it off, kind of like his foot going to sleep.
“Right when it landed on my toe I said: ‘Oh no, my toe is broken,’” said Wilkie, a Grade 11 student. “I then got this burst of adrenaline and I thought I could walk it off, but that didn’t happen.”
The six-foot-four Wilkie spent the volleyball season watching from the bench and getting prepared for the basketball season.
“It was frustrating not to play volleyball, but I thought I should start getting ready for basketball,” said Wilkie, a small forward with the Falcons. “At least on crutches I could still workout lifting weights.”
Wilkie also continued to work on his shot in the spare time as soon as he could stand properly. It wasn’t until the Falcons played the WR Myers Rebels in a Dec. 15 tournament in Airdrie that Wilkie was on the court.
“Coach would only let me play for a minute at a time so I didn’t have a chance to get tired, but my ankle was in a cast for so long that my foot would get sore before I got tired,” Wilkie said.
Gwilliam added more minutes each game for is forward Wilkie got the most minutes of the year in the Falcons’ 81-63 victory the Highwood Mustangs on Jan. 9 at Foothills Composite High School.
“I was happy with how I played tonight, obviously there are things that I can improve on — I could have played better defence,” he said after the Jan. 9 game. “I still have to work on running. Everybody tells me I run with a limp. I also have to work on my conditioning. I also can’t jump as well. I used to be able to dunk — just barely, but I can’t do that now.”
Wilkie made the Senior varsity basketball team as a Grade 10 student, but he doesn’t think he is quite back to where he was last season.
“My goal is to get back my confidence,” Wilkie said. “I start to think: ‘How am I going to do this without hurting myself?’ and that slows me down quite a bit. If I could just empty my head and play, I find I play much better.”
The empty-head strategy is not one he will be using next week as he prepares for his final exams. The honours with distinction student will write his physics, math and biology exams. Wilkie is part of the advanced placement program at Foothills.
Meanwhile, Gwilliam is more than willing to take things slowly with his second-year forward. He wants a healthy Wilkie for the Falcons’ provincial championship run in March.
“It’s a slow recovery,” Gwilliam said. “It’s healed, but right now we’re trying to get his strength and endurance back.”
The Falcons coach said he knows what it is like to come back from a non-basketball injury because he broke a rib while snowboarding when he was a Grade 9 student.
Gwilliam is more than confident Wilkie will be an asset down the stretch.
“I would take 10 Noah Wilkies no problem,” Gwilliam said.
The Foothills Falcons remained undefeated in the Foothills Athletic Council with a 4-0 record after downing the Highwood Mustangs 81-63 on Jan. 9. However, Gwilliam was far from pleased with his squad’s effort in their first game of the new year.
“We played really bad in the first half,” Gwilliam said. “Highwood just outworked us. They got every loose ball, every rebound.”
The Falcons were able to comeback in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter when they outscored the Mustangs 22-6.
“We finally started to play in the fourth quarter,” Gwilliam said.
In other Foothills Athletic Council (FAC) action the Holy Trinity Academy Knights improved to 2-2 with a 62-46 win over the Holy Cross Collegiate Hawks on Jan. 9 in Okotoks. The Knights lost to the Hawks 64-60 to start the year back on Dec. 5.
FAC play will take a break for final exams and won’t resume until Feb. 4 when the Knights travel to High River to take on the Mustangs.
The Falcons will start play Feb. 6 when they host Holy Cross.
In Tier II play, the Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School Spartans will host the Notre Dame Collegiate Timberwolves on Feb. 4. The Spartans are in first place in the FAC with a 3-0 record.
The Oilfields Drillers they take on the Strathmore Spartans pm Feb. 4 in Strathmore.