In The Spotlight: Shelby Cage

Once in a while you’ll run into an athlete that displays all of the qualities of a team player. I met one this year and she goes to Oak Ridge high school.

Everyone has their definition of what a team player might be but you’ll just get my version today. By the end of this piece, I think you’ll agree that the subject exhibits what I feel defines a team player.

My team player has to possess the following qualities:

1) This athlete must be reliable. In other words show up all the time going 100%.

2) Communicates with teammates positively.

3) Pitches in to help beyond what is expected.

4) Is flexible in that she will excel anywhere the coach puts her.

5) Exhibits total commitment to the team…totally unselfish.

6) Is a problem solver…not a part of the problem.

7) Always shows respect to teammates.

8) Encouraging.

My player was injured in the early days of girls basketball practice and is lost for most of the season. If she comes back, it may be for just one game. Yet, you can find her at every practice working and doing what she can to help the team. Here she has very little hope of contributing on the floor making her basketball playing career virtually over and she remains a glass is half full person.

Meet ORHS basketball player, senior Shelby Cage:

When did you start playing basketball?
I started playing basketball in 7th grade. Recently, I’ve played in Legends leagues and last summer I played with Alodia. Before that, just the leagues Oak Ridge has put together.

What motivated you to play basketball?
When I was in 4th grade, I saw the movie “Double Teamed” on the Disney Channel. I thought it was the greatest movie ever and it inspired me to play basketball my 7th grade year!

Do you have a coach in your past that has been real inspirational?
I don’t really know a coach that has stood out as inspiring to my life..I mean… my junior high coach, Coach Vanderlind was our coach and I thought she was the most amazing lady ever! If I had to choose one coach, I would say Coach Hurt who was my coach my sophomore year. She’s head coach at Klein Forest now and she was for sure the most strict coach I’ve ever met, yet she was the most HILARIOUS! She was very sarcastic, but I only had her for one year so there wasn’t much of an impact as I would have wished. To this day though, we (the seniors) always talk about how we miss her teachings and her yelling and stuff. She was a great coach and Klein Forest is very lucky to have her. She likes to run, run, run but that next year we all learned it made us such better players.

What are your plans for college?
I’m going to Texas State in San Marcos. I have guaranteed admission based on my SAT and ACT scores so that was pretty exciting and super stress-relieving. I just had to have everything turned in by December 15! I got it done, luckily! I don’t know what I’m studying just yet, but mass communication is what I’m planning on taking. A sports analyst is a job I’m interested in and something I’d love being. I would love to keep up with sports and especially have a job in that field! That’d be even better. I’ve always been into sports, so why not keep it going for life?

Why do you like living in the Oak Ridge area?
The thing I enjoy most about Oak Ridge is my friends for sure! I always have something going on all the time, every day and weekend with them. The basketball team is another favorite thing too. They’re my family at Oak Ridge who I can tell anything to and hang out with any time of any day and do anything with no matter what. All of my friends are like my “2nd family”. With the basketball team, I have them to go to at the end of every day. This is my last year with them and it’s the saddest thing ever to think about! I don’t ever want to think about when the day comes that our last game comes, or our basketball banquet..IT’S GOING TO BE TERRIBLE!

Are there any special teachers you’d like to mention?
Coach Foltermann….I’ve only known her this year but she’s by far my favorite teacher ever! She’s very chill and down to earth. She tells it like it is… she’s sarcastic and so funny. I wish she could come with me to college. I would love for her to be a friend with me.

You tore your ACL before the season started. How are you dealing with all that comes with an injury?
This knee injury has been the hardest thing I’ve EVER had to deal with. I tore my ACL and partially tore my meniscus. When it happened, the ER told me it was just a sprained knee. I was so excited I’d be back and playing and that I wasn’t out for season or anything. But, they wanted me to follow up with Dr. Kevin Coupe just to make sure. So, I went and he did a bunch of things to my knee and he told me he wanted me to get an MRI just to make sure everything was okay. I was nervous, but went ahead and did it. Sure enough, I found out I tore it and needed surgery and I was a nervous wreck. To this day, I’ve come so far from where I was from the day I had my surgery. I was depressed for a while. I cried and cried so much! Especially the day before our first game! I didn’t go to sleep until like 3 ‘clock in the morning. When we were on the bus, I was dead silent. I couldn’t even talk because I was so upset that I couldn’t play. I just told myself I could either take the hard way out or the easy way out. Six months of healing time is a long process, but I knew I could handle it. It’s only been a couple months but I’ve turned the entire thing around. I figured I’d have to do it for my team, and be there for them as much as possible since I couldn’t play with them on the court.

What are your responsibilities on the team now that you can not play?
I pretty much do everything that the team does besides get on the court and play. My name gets sent for tournament rosters. I dress out and stay for practice and shoot around. I do whatever the coaches want me to do and I am very encouraging and supportive at all times. It does suck not being able to go out there and play with them but I just want to help my teammates however I can and let them know I am there for them.

You are involved with Young Life. Can you describe what Young Life is about?
Young Life is a young people church deal and we meet every Monday at 7:47. Campaigners (bible study) is also a part of Young Life and we meet on Wednesdays at 7:30 and its a really fun experience. I have met a lot of new friends through it and have become close with some of our leaders. I would encourage everyone to come to Young Life!

You have about five months to go and your days at Oak Ridge high school are over. In getting to know you, I’ve noticed that you are comfortable with laying it all on the line unafraid to allow people into your world. How about giving us a Shelby send off?
You know, with my ACL surgery it’s really helped me focus on school and art. This is my second year doing art and I’m in Art 2-painting and it’s really helped take my mind off of things and take away the pain from the surgery and the mental pain as well. I’m very thankful to have it!

I just want to say though, it isn’t easy…at all. In being an 18 year old girl in her senior year, very outgoing, athletic and not having my sport to back me up when things get tough. I always had basketball as my escape and my way out when I was stressed out or upset, especially when anything was on my mind. However, this year I’ve faced depression more than I ever have. Well, not to the point where I want to off myself or anything, but to the point where I almost use excuses to get out of things. It’s hard to get your mind mentally tough and prepared for the next 6 months ahead of you. No one can do it for you… you’re by yourself.

My physical therapist, Andy Cox has been very helpful though. He’s a very nice guy and he works me when I get in there. He’s not only good with my injury but he helps me mentally as well. I have physical therapy twice a week and recently just began doing way harder things than I was doing before. I feel like I’ve never been this sore. I’m about to get my knee brace this week and begin running probably next week! I CAN’T WAIT! That’s got to be one of the hardest things…. not being able to run. When injured like this, I can’t work out like I want to and I am out of shape. Thankfully, I’m about to start going back to the gym but I’m just limited in what I’m allowed to do.

I hope I meet more kids who have to have this surgery. I’m not wishing it on them but I want to be able to help and be there for them. Seeing as I didn’t really have anyone who experienced every emotion I did and still am experiencing, I feel like I’ll have a way to connect with them, especially if they’re in the same boat as I am with senior year and all.

It has been disappointing knowing that I never actually got the varsity experience. I was JV captain last year and that was nice, but varsity is the one thing any athlete looks forward to. I may be able to play in the last game and maybe even the second to last one too, but there’s a chance I won’t and I’m aware of that.

I think about playing every day and how I haven’t been able to have that experience with my team. They’re telling me constantly, “Shelby, I wish you were playing so bad!” and it breaks my heart because I really wish I could play. I miss always having basketball there with me. I can play intramurals in college so I’m for sure going to be playing basketball but never a legit high school or college game.

Like I said, I’m excited to talk to people about my story and help anyone through it because I personally know, it’s not easy! We all have our obstacles in life and I guess this injury has been a test to my character. I’m not through it yet but I like the challenge and I’m kickin’ its ass. I can put this experience to good use by helping others.

Thank you for letting me tell my story.

So, do you agree that Shelby is a team player?

Thought so…

Comments to Doug Sarant at Doug at oakridgenow.com.

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Doug Sarant, Oak Ridge Now

Born and raised in New England, Doug promises he got to Texas as fast as he could. He earned the much needed "piece of paper" from Sam Houston State, proving to himself he could start and finish something. Doug's interests include coaching and playing any sport and still plays lacrosse competitively. He also enjoys going to dinner theaters, though he complains there just aren't enough of them in the area. Doug was brought up in a cultured environment, having suffered through dozens of symphonies and operas with his way too over-educated mother. At the end of the day, Doug is just a dad and husband and claims to be good at both.

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