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May 10, 1999 - Image 13

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1999-05-10

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Michigan catcher
Melissa Gentile
isn't a nervous per-
son.
But on a cool April day at
Northwestern the butterflies
ad been unleashed and acre
flying freely in her stomach.
They shouldn't have
been. The at bat was
like any of the other
hundreds she had
taken before. DANA INNANE Da
But every at bat is
unique in its own way, and this at
bat's distinction was a rare one. It
was Gentile's first at bat since she
had back surgery in November.
She was walked and immediately
eplaced by a base runner. The end-
of-the-game at bat was meaningless
to everyone but Gentile.
"That first time I stepped in the
box against Northwestern and all the
fans gave me a standing ovation. It
was incredible," Gentile said. "I got
the chills - and it was like, 'This is
why I came back.'
Five months earlier, Gentile ssoke
100h more than the usual soreness in
her back from sleeping. She couldn't
get out of bed or move laterally. So
Gentile laid in bed all day until the
next day when the soreness had
reached its previous low. But from

Monday, May 10, 1999 - The Michigan Daily - 13

GENTILE'S BACK
BY JON ZEMKE - DAILY SPORTS WRITER

Nov. 6 on, she didn't go
to classes because of the pain.
After going to see the doc-
tor a few days later,
Gentile was on a confer-
ence call with her coach
Carol Hutchins, team
trainers and her doc-
tors when the diag-
noses came. She
had several
y bulging disks
in the lumbar
region of her spine and would
require surgery.
"I really wasn't expecting that at
all," Gentile said. "We were all just
in shock."
According to doctors, her career
was over.
Normally, such prognoses didn't
bother Gentile. The 'your career is
over' speech had been given to her
before, but she had always played
again.
"I've been told three times in my
career that I was completely done
and couldn't play anymore,' Gentile
said.
"This time, I kinda bought into it
_ I didn't think I was going to be
back."
Gentile had a lot of other things to
consider. What would be the long

term effects? Would she be able to
walk when she was 40? What about
arthritis?
Her late November surgery was
her second to remove the remainder
of the disk between her fourth and
fifth lumbar vertebrae.
She'd already had half of it
removed when she was 16. Gentile
also had some bulging disks repaired
on her third and fourth lumbar verte-
brae and her first spinal column ver-
tebrae.
With all things considered, Gentile
had conte to grips with not playing
again. Fortunately for Gentile and
her coaches, she began seeing
Kristin Walters.
"She's in the spinal program and
she's been the best thing," Gentile
said. "I've tried pretty much every-
thing to get my back better - she's
been great. I feel better now than I
did before the surgery."
Walter discovered that the muscles
in the right side of Gentile's back
were much tighter than the ones on
her left, forcing her back to twist.
They began a rehabilitation program
that consisted of Walters pushing
Gentile's sacrum into place, stretch-
ing her muscles and basically mak-
ing the adjustments that chiroprac-
tics and acupuncture couldn't.
Gentile began to believe that she

could come back, yet again. After
starting out the season as primarily a
coach and team leader Gentile began
to take a few practice swings and
slowly began to play again.
At Northwestern in her second at
bat back, Gentile hit a double off the
right field fence that scored the first
run in a 4-2 Wolverine win.
"It just felt great," Gentile said.
"After I hit it was like OK I got my
first hit out of the way and now I can
just settle in and get back into it."
The hit has been her first of many
so far this season. On a wet Saturday
afternoon against Indiana, Gentile
muscled out a three run bullet. It
would have landed in center field of
Ray Fisher Stadium, home of the
Michigan baseball team, had it not
been for a pine tree branch.
Gentile has been playing the des-

ignated hitter position since her
return and has just begun running the
bases. But she was starting to take a
few practice catches last Saturday
and has been cleared to catch again
by team doctors.
Not bad for catcher who has had
chronic back problems since she was
nine.
"It feels incredible," Gentile said.
"It's just how my roles have changed
since the beginning of the year -
'OK, I'm playing in kind ofa leader-
ship role. OK, you're done hitting.
You're done playing. It's just a
coaching role.'
"Now just to be back and to go full
circle and all that it feels so good.
This is what I love doing. I love
coaching. I love helping out the
team, but this is what I love doing. I
love being a player."
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Linksters struggle through invitational
lichigan disheveled after eighth-place finish on home course

By Raphael Goodstein
Daily Sports Writer
Teams are remembered for how
well they perform at the end of the
season.
If the Michigan men's golf team is
to be remembered, it will have to
start excelling -
Bd soon. GOLF
- With the Big Comna
Ten tournament Commentary
starting later in ------------------
the week, the team is playing worse
now than it was just a few weeks ago.
The team finished tied for eighth
place in the 18-team Wolverine
Invitational held this past weekend at
the Michigan Golf Course.
"We beat some of the other teams
that finished ahead of us earlier in
the year, and you would think that on
ur own home course you would
have the advantage," Michigan coach
Jim Carras said.
"We didn't execute that, and that's
the sad thing."
The Wolverines face the tough
task of placing the disappointing
team results behind and preparing
for the Big Ten tournament.
A dejected captain, junior Mike
a rris said, "We set our goal to fin-
in the top four or five (in the Big
Ten tournament) and unless some-

thing miraculous happens, things
aren't looking too good. I don't even
know who's going to go next week."
Harris's frustrations played a role
in the team's lack of success as
Harris's scores went up every day of
the tournament culminating with a
76 yesterday.
Harris shot a 220 for the tourna-
ment. The Wolverines finished with
892 shots, 43 shots more than cham-
pion Minnesota shot.
"It's on your home golf course and

you're letting teams that should not
beat you, beat you. I don't even know
where to start. It's almost gotten to
the point of embarrassment," Harris
said.
"I'm hell-bent on making sure that
this team is competitive," Carras
said.
Minnesota's James McClean set a
course record 63 on Saturday. The
record is particularly notable, con-
sidering the adverse-weather condi-
tions he faced.

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