- Val T.
First ‘Aid:’ Smith returns to court, scores 6 in first game in 11 months
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Rochester senior guard-forward Aidan Smith did not know he would be able to play against North Miami when he woke up Friday morning.
But after 11 months, he said he made it through his harrowing health drama with the support of his teammates and coaches.
His journey back to the court complete, he came off the bench to score six points and lead the Zebras to a 63-38 win over the visiting Warriors in their Three Rivers Conference opener.
Smith said he got medical clearance to play earlier Friday. He said he suffered a concussion when he slipped and inadvertently hit his head on teammate Luke Hunting’s knee against Tri-Central on Nov. 27, 2021.
He said he kept the injury to himself and thus was not placed through a concussion protocol. What followed is what he calls “post-concussion syndrome.”
He said he threw up every day at practice for a month or two straight. He also suffered headaches.
Smith continued to play, but he continued to suffer from symptoms. He played in a 59-36 loss at Tippecanoe Valley on Jan. 14, but he said he could not continue.
“That’s when I decided not to do it,” Smith said. “Because it was just grueling physically.”
He attended open gyms during the summer, but he said he was not “necessarily cleared all the way at that point.”
“I mean, there’s been a lot of other stuff with it,” Smith said. “I’m going to be upfront and honest: Mental health has been a struggle with it, things like that, but I’ve been really working on it, and all the guys and coaching staff have been great.”
He was asked if the game came back easily to him.
“Not at all,” Smith replied. “My conditioning is still rough. It’s a process, day by day.”
He also said he has not been able to lift weights during his recovery. But he is back. He said he completed his 10th practice on Thursday, which made him eligible to play if he received medical clearance.
“I figured out this morning actually,” Smith said. “But I was getting hints here and there that maybe the possibility was there. So it was pretty exciting this morning finding out.”
He admitted that he was thinking about not playing this year.
“Originally, I wasn’t going to play, but I had everyone convince me, and as soon as I got back in it, I realized that it’s something that I’ll never get to do again, so I’m going to do it.”