Katie Tuthill was just plain scared.
That was the word she used to describe her return to basketball after sitting out the entire 2014-15 season because of a concussion injury.
When she was asked if she felt any trepidation upon her return to the basketball court this summer, Tuthill referred to a practice last week. “I was so scared,” she said. “I don’t know. I guess I’m still a little fragile. I’m not as strong as I was.”
Tuthill may be stronger than she thought. On Monday evening the junior forward for the Southold/Greenport high school team played her first basketball game since February of 2014. It wasn’t anything dramatic, but it was a step forward for her.
What was Tuthill’s reaction after playing in a 45-22 loss to Longwood on the opening night of the Town of Brookhaven Summer League season?
“I forgot how much I enjoyed playing the game,” she said, adding, “I had a fun time today.”
The 5-foot-6 Tuthill, who was on the varsity team as a freshman, is expected to help the Clippers in the rebounding department, playing down low with players such as Grace Syron, Sam Baldwin and Jamie Molnar. That was just what Tuthill did on Monday. She grabbed a team-leading 6 rebounds to go with 4 points in the game at Shoreham-Wading River High School.
The Clippers’ coach, Howie Geismar, has seen enough to declare Tuthill an asset to the team.
“I think she’s going to help us a lot,” he said. “She’ll add a lot of toughness to the team next year. It’s going to take a little while. She hasn’t played basketball [in a while], but she’s definitely going to give us a versatile kind of swing player. She can play on the wing. She can play inside a little bit. She’ll help.”
Tuthill experienced a major disruption in her athletic life last fall when she suffered a concussion while playing goalkeeper for the Greenport/Southold field hockey team. While diving for a ball, she was kicked in the head by a player who had tripped over her. It resulted in Tuthill’s first concussion. “It was my first and it was quite a doozy,” she said.
Tuthill suffered headaches and other side affects such as trouble concentrating. She missed the remainder of the field hockey season and then the basketball season as well. In the meantime, she underwent a lot of physical therapy.
A pattern had developed for Tuthill of seeing a doctor every two weeks, undergoing more concussion tests and remaining hopeful of receiving medical clearance to participate in physical activity. “Being let down every two weeks is tough,” she said.
Until, finally, one day in mid-March, she received the go-ahead she had been waiting for and played for the Southold/Greenport softball team.
Although Tuthill didn’t play basketball last season, she was with the team as an official scorer. “I was there every game and most practices,” she said.
Now she is a welcomed presence on the basketball court.
“She’s going to be our big rebounder,” point guard Ale Cardi said. “We missed her a lot last year.”
Geismar, who took over as the Clippers’ coach last season, looks at the return of Tuthill like found money, a plus, something the Clippers didn’t have last season. He said: “If she was the new girl who moved into the district, it would be like, ‘Wow, we got this kid. She’s pretty good.’ ”
Tuthill said, as she had been warned, she still gets an occasional headache, “just not as bad as I did.”
After Monday’s game, though, she said she felt good. She said, “Exercising is good.”