Gettysburg Basketball Player Story of Triumph and Recovery Will Move You to Tears
The following blog post was adapted from an article written by ESPN writer, Greg Garber, titled A story of triumph, sportsmanship: Gettysburg’s Cory Weissman overcomes odds to return to the court one more time. Read the entire article here.
Cory Weissman, a health science major at Gettysburg College, has had quite the journey. But Weissman was determined to not let anything get in the way of his goals.
Cory Weissman scored 1,071 points in his basketball career at Jackson Memorial High School, but none of those shots could ever be as sweet as this one foul shot.
On March 26, 2009 Cory Weissman suffered a life altering stroke while lifting with his teammate and friend, Brendan Trelease.
“He couldn’t keep his head up, it was kind of bouncing from side to side,” Trelease remembered. “I ran ahead to get help and in the five seconds that I wasn’t with him, the left side of his body was completely paralyzed.”
For 11 days Weissman was staying at Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and then taken directly to the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange, NJ. His whole left side was non-functional.
After 5 grueling weeks of therapy, Cory was able to bring his left arm back, primarily by dribbling a basketball.
June 1, 2009: 2 months after the stroke, Cory was admitted to Hersey Medical Center for a seven-hour operation to remove the AVM (arteriovenous malformation, an irregular tangle of arties and veins).
The therapy continued, but since his left side suffered such severe trauma, with therapy, came the shakes.
When the seizures began, he convinced himself that he still wanted — no, needed — to be part of the Gettysburg basketball team.
“I would get a weird sensation in my left hand,” he said. “Then my arm would start to shake and I would get tremors in my bicep and it would just start shaking out of control.”
Weissman suffered a dozen or so seizures in the two years after surgery, 8 of which his best friend Trelease was by his side.
Gettysburg College’s athletic facility recently just added a HydroWorx therapy pool with an underwater treadmill. This pool became Cory’s best friend. Cory was able to benefit from the buoyancy of the water, allowing him to walk without bearing the weight of his whole body.
HydroWorx Therapy Pool at Gettysburg College
With signs of progress, Cory began setting goals.
“He’s very good at setting goals,” Trelease said. “His first goal was to dress, the next one was to participate in warm-ups. He accomplished both of those things this year. The third and final goal was to get on the court in some way.”
Senior Day arrived, and Cory Weissman’s name was on the starting line-up for Gettysburg. Emotions were running high. On the first whistle, Cory got the ball and rolled it out of bounds, but that was not the end of Cory.
Weissman entered with 52 seconds left in the game.
The Washington head coach, Nugent called a time out with 19 seconds left. Nugent advised his player to lightly foul Weissman to put him on the line, in hopes of Cory scoring his first points as a collegiate basketball player.
“He gets the ball, and I just tug on his jersey, just the slightest tug,” Flanigan said, beaming. “You just hear the whistle blow … it was nice.” (Freshman forward, Sean Flanigan)
Cory missed the first free throw, but his coach was confident because he was known to miss the first one, but then would make 10 to 12 in a row.
Cory Weissman’s second free throw shot. His first collegiate point.
Free Throw No. 2. Silence.
“For whatever reason,” he said, “the second free throw was the most confident free throw I’ve ever taken in my life. I saw three years of hard work flash before my eyes and said there’s no way this ball’s not going in.”
“When that ball went through it was like an explosion of sound that just resonated, and I think everybody had a good cry,” the coach said. “It was just great. Great.”
The game ball that day went to Cory Weissman.
Said Weissman, “I finally achieved my goal. I was happy. My day was perfect.”
To read the whole story and watch the inspiring video featured on College Game Day, click here.