Kim Scamman: A Cut Above

Kim Scamman CM ’15 is quick. Not just quick as in side-to-side or straight ahead. Not just quick as in the decisions she makes as a point
guard or her kickout passes that find open teammates on the perimeter. Not just
quick as in basketball IQ. But quick as in all of the above — and then some. 

the court, quickness is the junior point guard’s foundation, and, based on the
confidence she has on the floor, one would think that she has always been one
step ahead of the players around her. One step quicker. But she hasn’t always
been this way. In reality, Scamman knows all too well what it means to be stuck
and unable to change direction. She knows the other side of the game because it
was not too long ago that quickness seemed a long way away.

Without being prompted, Scamman compares herself to
Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls. Rose knows a few things about quickness too.
While regarded as one of the top talents in the NBA and one of the best pure
athletes in any sport, Rose’s career has slowed recently. Not once, but
twice he has lost the quickness that sets him apart. One thing has held him
back: knee injuries. As it turns out, Scamman knows a few things about those

Right now, Scamman is the leader of a 17-3 Athenas squad that looks to have a strong chance at a SCIAC title. Her
14.9 points per game is good for fourth in the SCIAC and her 5.8 rebounds per game is
almost unheard of for a point guard. But a year ago, she was on the bench. In the
2012 preseason, Scamman suffered a torn ACL that ended her season and placed
some serious questions on the future of her career. One ACL tear alone can
derail an athlete, but this was Scamman’s second.

“It was pretty devastating,” Scamman said. “It was
like, ‘I can’t believe this is happening all over again.’”

Scamman spent the year watching people play the game
she loves. Her game. The one in which she was supposed to shine.

Once the devastation and frustration subsided, she
began to see an opportunity. The bench transformed from a place to mope into a
place to learn. Disappointment gave way to a new type of motivation.

“I got to such a point where there was nothing I
could do about it and it was all about how I reacted to the situation that
really mattered,” Scamman said. “So I decided to take it into a positive thing
and make it a year where I could learn from watching. Every game I learned a
lot just from watching. [I had] that fire of wanting to come back and show
everyone that I’m not gonna let an injury affect how I play.”

All the watching and learning soon combined with a
rigorous rehabilitation plan designed to heal and strengthen Scamman’s knee.
Often, athletes hope that they can recover to the point where their knee will be
stable and won’t hold them back. Some athletes are never the same — they lose
confidence in their ability to cut at full speed or plant and quickly reverse
directions. A past ACL tear is a voice in an athlete’s head telling them that they
are not quite what they used to be. One step slower, one step behind.

An ACL injury is supposed to be an extra mental and
physical weight that follows athletes and slows them down, but Scamman has
taken a different route. What was supposed to derail her career has done quite
the opposite.

“I think the thing that separates me is going
through two ACL surgeries,” Scamman said. “Rehabbing from that, working my butt
off from that, definitely gives me an edge from other girls just because I know
how hard I had to work to get to this point and I know how easy it is for
something like that to completely take anything away. It’s so easy to lose
everything in a split second.”

This Saturday, that edge will be on full display as
Scamman’s Athenas cross the street and take on rival Pomona-Pitzer. Scamman believes that P-P is a team on the rise, and sees Saturday’s
match-up no differently than any other game.

“They’re definitely not a team that we should
overlook at all,” Scamman said. “They’ve gotten better over the years and it’s
just another tough team that we have to come out and play 100 percent against.
We can’t give them any sort of step ahead of us. We can’t think [that they are]
what they were a couple years back.”

On the whole, Scamman spends far more time thinking about her own
team than any other, a mentality that reflects a great deal of confidence in
the players around her.

“It’s just ourselves,” Scamman said. “When we play as
a team and when we play great, we’re the best.”

That confidence matches nearly everything Scamman
does on the court. There is little wasted movement, little time for anything
that might hold back the Athenas’ fast-paced style.

The way Scamman plays makes sense. Nearly every
rebound, every steal, every hustle play comes with the same intensity. There is
a sense of urgency — the kind of urgency that comes with knowing what it feels
like to lose the game she loves. The kind of urgency that comes from
understanding that everything she has worked for could be gone at any second. Her
quickness may appear purely physical, but there is a mental aspect that keeps
it going, that never lets it turn off. Just as quick as her knee twisted and
her ACL tore, she will plant, switch directions, and jump into a passing lane to
take it the other way.

For Scamman, her return to basketball is more than
just playing a game again.

“Basketball is pretty much my life right now,”
Scamman said. “I have no idea what I would do without it.”

With every change of direction and every hustle play
that would have been impossible not too long ago, it appears more and more that
for Scamman, life is pretty good.

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