By Jason Primo
At 2:15 p.m. on Jan. 27, Ryerson’s basketball star Errol Fraser’s life changed forever.
“David Lowe, our school physiotherapist, told me that my basketball career here at Ryerson was over,” said Fraser, the OUA’s second leading scorer this season.
The heartbreaking news came four weeks after Fraser hyper-extended his right leg during the first game of an exhibition tournament.
“I stole the ball, entered the fast break with one defender in my path, he fouled me and I landed awkwardly on my right leg,” said Fraser. “It didn’t feel right when I tried to get up.”
An MRI scan confirmed that he fractured his tibia plateau. Fraser also tore all four major ligaments in the knee: the ACL, MCL, LCL and PCL.
“I never thought it would be this serious.”
Head athletic therapist Lynn Kaak is helping Fraser through his rehabilitation process.
“The fracture to the tibia plateau is six millimetres deep,” said Kaak. “It’s not the way anyone wants to go out.”
Torn ligaments plague athletes who perform activities that involve sudden changes of direction. Changing directions with lightning speed was once Fraser’s forte. Now, he suffers even when he isn’t moving.
“For awhile I couldn’t sleep because of the weight of my body,” said the OUA all-star.
Though most of the physical pain is gone, Fraser is still feeling the effects of his injury.
“What hurts more than anything is the way I’m ending my career. This is killing me,” said Fraser. “[But] I need to cheer my teammates and provide extra encouragement. If they need water, I will get it. If they need towels, I will get it.”
Fraser averaged 15.6 points per game during his three years at Ryerson. First-year head coach Patrick Williams says Fraser’s skills are very rare.
“Errol is the most talented player in all of Canada,” said Williams.
Terry Haggerty, manager of interuniversity sports, coached Fraser for two years.
“Extremely explosive. He is an all-around scoring threat who can’t be stopped when he elevates,” said Haggerty.
Teammate Vladimir Matevski has put his heart into stepping up in Fraser’s absence. Matevski was shaken by the news but remains optimistic.
“It’s sad but he shouldn’t give up. He’s a warrior. He wanted to play against RMC but I told him to wait until he gets the results,” said Matevski.
Ryerson’s biggest basketball supporter broke down in tears when she received the news about her boyfriend’s injury.
“When I saw the pain he was in, I knew it was more serious than missing two or three games,” said Keisha Williams, Fraser’s soulmate for the last four and a half years. “I love him with all my heart … if he goes down so will I. I will always be there to support him.”
Before his injury, Fraser never thought about life after basketball, but now that has changed.
Although his basketball career is over, the future looks bright for Fraser.
His ultimate goal is to become a teacher. His motivation for education comes from his relationship with his high school vice principal. Tim Vawney was the first person to recognize Fraser’s basketball potential.
Last march, Vawney gave Fraser the opportunity to be a supply teacher. “He told me it was a quick way to make money. I ended up liking it,” said Fraser. “When a little boy came up to me and said ‘thank you’ after class, I knew teaching was for me.”
Ultimately, Fraser has to decide whether he should take his mother’s advice and work hard towards making the Canadian national team or to pursue a career in teaching.
“I’m so confused about that, but right now I’m not thinking about ball.”
Since he received his MRI results, Fraser has been avoiding the gym. “I’ve stayed away because I wanted time for myself.”
Fraser plans to speak with a surgeon soon to book an operation on his leg.
Although Fraser loves putting up big numbers on the court, what he loves more than Ryerson basketball is Ryerson. “Knowing that I won’t be able to fulfill my dreams of winning a championship, that burns inside me.
“Right now I’m not concentrating on ball. I’m thinking about my degree.
“Ryerson is a family and nothing can break you when your family is behind you. I wouldn’t change my experience here for the world.”