COLUMBIA — The snowstorm that hit Columbia this week didn't just close schools and clog roads. It's also the reason Columbia College junior Brock Walker won't be playing Saturday in the Cougars' regular season finale at William Woods.
"I was supposed to get cleared by the doctor (Thursday), but of course my appointment got canceled," said Walker, who dislocated his shoulder Feb. 14 against Missouri Baptist University.
The Cougars (29-0, 15-0 AMC) need to beat rival William Woods (13-15, 9-6 AMC) to complete an undefeated regular season. The Owls host the game at 4 p.m. Saturday in Fulton. The AMC tournament begins next Thursday at Columbia College.
Walker's right arm got yanked backwards when he collided with a Missouri Baptist player while fighting for a loose ball. Then he fell on it. The impact popped the shoulder out of its socket and resulted in a slight tear of the labrum, cartilage found in the shoulder joint that holds it in place. A trainer helped put Walker's shoulder back in, but the labral damage is irreparable without surgery.
"It was weird. It didn't really hurt, but I knew I couldn't move it," said Walker. "Wrong place, wrong time, bad angle."
The injury forced Walker to miss the Cougars last two games and a week of practice. Coach Bob Burchard said his team was still adjusting to Walker's absence after its 85-64 win over Harris-Stowe State Wednesday night.
"We were in an automatic rotation of players, and now that he's not available, we're trying to backfill his spot," Burchard said Wednesday. "And I don't know if we've gotten comfortable with that yet."
Walker was back on the practice court Friday, wearing a protective black brace on his right shoulder to ensure it didn't overextend.
He said his arm didn't hurt, but that he's spoken to people who have had the same injury and heard pain may come and go sporadically. He participated in all drills but favored his left arm and said the injury was in the back of his mind.
"I'm pretty cautious about it," Walker said. "You know its there. You don't want it to get hurt again."
Walker is working hard to rehab his shoulder. His regime includes band work, pushdowns and slight lifting. He is not allowed to lift weights above his chest or over his head. And he is confident he won't need surgery until after the season.
Columbia College trainers expect doctors to clear Walker when they examine him. That won't be until Thursday, when the Cougars host the American Midwest Conference tournament quarterfinals.
"He's close to coming back," Burchard said. "He's not done for the year."