Foggie finds bright side in beating adversity

When Vanderbilt takes on Mississippi State in the SECT at 9 p.m. CST today, they will do it with a trio of freshmen who have made their presence known in the league. Joining SEC All-Freshmen Jasmine Lister and Stephanie Holzer, also the SEC's Sixth Woman of the Year, is Christina Foggie, who has faced more adversity than any save Clair Watkins (redshirted for an injury in the first practice).

Among the injuries sustained by Vanderbilt players, including Clair Watkin's ACL tear, Stephanie Holzer's back spasms, and Jence Rhoads' sprained ankle and calf and broken wrist in summer pickup, none were more serious than the two concussions which kept Foggie, a potential SEC All-Freshman candidate, from appearing on the post-season awards list.

The fearless Mount Laurel, New Jersey native missed 11 games this season, and her return is nothing short of astounding.

"Resilient" is how Head Coach Melanie Balcomb described Foggie's reliable play after she sat out five consecutive games due to Post Concussion Syndrome. She hit 11 points on her return to action February 17 on the road against Mississippi State, then played 36 of 40 minutes against Kentucky to lead all scorers with 23 points. On the defensive end, her speed snatched three steals, her will grabbed six boards. She posted 15 points against Florida in the following game.

Her early season numbers were exceptional for a newcomer to the complex system. In Vandy's first two exhibitions, she sank a combined 41 points against Delta State and Union. During her first collegiate game on November 14, Foggie fired in 14 points and dished 8 assists. She missed the Samford game with a strained calf muscle, but returned to action November 21 to play 39 minutes at No. 6 Florida State. Against the highly ranked team, with no visible hesitation, she popped in 21 points and had 5 assists.

The fleet of foot guard, Vandy's top-rated recruit in the freshman class, at times sweeps down court like a bullet train. But on December 1, an accidental smash into a set screen at Bowling Green stopped her in her tracks.

In recalling the incident, Foggie, who laughs saying she really does have a hard head, said she remembers "my chin hitting her shoulder and then blacking out. I stumbled a few feet and then fell unconscious. When I came back there were medical people around me. It was an accident. My chin just happened to be the same exact height as her shoulder and I ran into it."

The concussion landed Foggie in the hospital overnight for observation. She sat out three games, but when she returned, she returned full force. Vandy was 0 for 3 in road games before arriving in Pittsburgh, Pa., for the senior homecoming game for Jence Rhoads. Perhaps it was the hometown feel of several Vanderbilt fans from Pennsylvania-New York-New Jersey region, perhaps it was eagerness to prove herself, perhaps it was just Foggie being Foggie. She did not hesitate. She did not hold back. She sank 17 points, and was a perfect 5 of 5 from three-point range. Her numbers were a few shy of the 21 that roommate Jasmine "Jaz" Lister contributed.

"It was like she never sat out," Jaz said. "She came back for the Mississippi State game and she scored a lot of points and helped us right away. She hasn't let it become a negative experience for herself. She's been positive. She kept her head up and kept getting in shape while she was out so she didn't feel out of place. She came back and helped us right away to win games." And to drive the point home, she states: "It's not typical for someone to sit out that many games and do as well as she did."

Foggie, who had never suffered a concussion before the Bowling Green game, sustained a second one in practice when a teammate's elbow hit her in the head. The five-game layoff followed the practice injury.

Her parents Nicola and James were very concerned that she would be re-injured because they know their daughter. She goes full throttle. "It was definitely concerning," she admits. "Concussions are serious whether sports-related or not. I just made sure I was healthy when I came back. As long as I was cleared to play, I kept playing the way I usually do. I trust my coaches and the medical staff; I never hesitated when I came back."

The athlete with a cheerful personality looks on the bright side, and will not play the "what if" game, wondering how different things could have been had her season been full term.

"It's hard because the season goes so fast you can't play ‘what if.' I made sure from sitting on the bench to learn a lot. It benefited me and I applied those things. Even playing just half the games, I learned just as much as if I were playing. It happened and you just have to deal with what's given to you."

And following 11th-seed Mississippi State's come-from-behind 49-47 upset over 6th-seeded Auburn Thursday, the ‘Dores have been dealt a matchup with the Bulldogs (12-16, 4-12). The game will be carried live on FSN. Vanderbilt (19-10, 10-6) twice defeated MSU this season, 65-44 on January 6 and again 74-62, on February 17 in Starkville. Vanderbilt went on a 17-0 run in the final 14 minutes of that game to earn the win. Vandy is 4-2 all-time against MSU in the SECT, and 31-14 all-time in the series.

The winner of this afternoon's 2:30 p.m. CST Kentucky-LSU match will play the winner of Vanderbilt-MSU on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. The game will be carried on ESPNU.

Foggie, who says she feels very good and is one hundred percent, is eager to contribute in her first SEC Tournament. "I'm very excited to play. It's great that the post-season has started, and it's going to be a lot of fun."



Christina Foggie charges full speed ahead, scoring 13 against the Lady Vols.


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