Columbia College's Julie Teeple glad to return to court

Sunday, December 12, 2010 | 7:43 p.m. CST; updated 1:18 p.m. CST, Monday, December 13, 2010
Columbia College's Julie Teeple is fouled by Oklahoma Baptist University's Samantha Smith as she goes up for a layup on Saturday. This was the first game back for the two sport player. She also plays volleyball.

COLUMBIA — As a sophomore last year, Julie Teeple was at practice for the Columbia College volleyball team, running drills to train for the NAIA national tournament. The team was working on agility, practicing quick block jumps, when Teeple came down with her legs straight and her knees locked tightly. Pain quickly surged through her leg.

Teeple had hyper-extended her knee, but not realizing the severity of her injury, she continued to practice. As the pain worsened, a trip to the doctor revealed a 12-centimeter long stress fracture in her tibia.

She was unable to continue playing volleyball and missed that year's women's basketball season, a sport she also plays for Columbia College. She redshirted this season in volleyball but is playing basketball again for the Cougars.

"It's been amazing to come back and play," Teeple said. "After being redshirted for volleyball, I was only able to practice. But finally I am able to get back on the court and actually play."

"She was such a spark plug for the team her freshman year," said Cindy Fotti, assistant director of athletics for Columbia College, of Teeple's work on the basketball team. "The team struggled without her. You can notice that even after just a week back out on the court, she has helped to improve the team so much."

Teeple plays forward for the Cougars, where she helps boost rebounding. While diving for loose balls during the Cougars' 84-62 victory Saturday over Oklahoma Baptist, Teeple often resembled a volleyball player going to the floor to make a dig.

Assistant basketball coach Curt Riley has worked with Teeple since her freshman year and said he is doing all he can to avoid further injury to her. Teeple, however, wants to play at full force.

"It's my job to protect Julie," Riley said. "When she gets out on that court, she puts in 100 percent. For the amount of time that she gives us, great things happen. She may only be out on the court for a total of 19 minutes, but for those several minutes, she is more efficient and can make more good plays than some players who are out on the court for the entire game."

Getting Teeple back into games has been a slow process. The coaches allow Teeple to practice for only short periods with breaks, free-throw shooting or riding on a stationary bike.

"They have me taking baby steps," Teeple said. "But I've missed out on part of the season, and so everyone has been really understanding and working with me to explain drills and plays and to get me back on track."

Although Riley does not think Teeple will ever be able play a full game, the Cougars are excited to see what she does in the time that she has.

Game Results

The Columbia College women's basketball team defeated Oklahoma Baptist 84-62 on Saturday at Southwell Complex.

Ashley Fisher led the Cougars with 17 points while Kayla Rice and Heather English each scored 14.

The Cougars are now 7-4 this season and will host Ashford (Iowa) University at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 20 at Southwell Complex.

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