A remastered sequel

For Audrey Grant, pessimism never seemed like the right answer. While the road for many college athletes is paved with glory and unbridled success, Grant’s story begs the question: How much can a person tolerate before throwing in the towel?

For Audrey Grant, pessimism never seemed like the right answer. While the road for many college athletes is paved with glory and unbridled success, Grant’s story begs the question: How much can a person tolerate before throwing in the towel?

But through all the setbacks and obstacles she has faced, the junior guard has found a way to sustain optimism. And with optimism as her fuel, Grant now finds herself with another crack at fulfilling her hardwood dreams at Portland State.

Grant’s bumpy ride began the summer prior to her junior year of high school at national basketball powerhouse Narbonne High School in Los Angeles. Playing a game for her Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) squad, an elite club basketball team, Grant tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

A torn ACL is a major knee injury, and in this case, it was so severe Grant was forced to miss her entire junior season, the prime recruiting year for basketball. Because of a lack of exposure, this missed time damaged her value with a number of college recruiters.

“The injury really dented my stock,” Grant said. “I was able to rehab and play my senior year, but it definitely changed my options.”

Despite the lack of interest in Grant, a connection with former head coach Charity Elliott led Grant to Portland State. Elliott had coached one of Grant’s former teammates, and through that relationship, Elliott discovered Grant. The head coach opted to bring Grant in on a recruiting trip, where the Los Angeles native liked the school and decided to become a Viking.

Once at Portland State, Grant struggled with the atmosphere of college basketball. While many athletes may struggle to adjust to the speed of the game or talent of the opposing players, Grant had difficulty accepting that her team struggled for victories. During her freshman season, the Vikings limped to a 3-23 record.

“It was difficult for me coming here and not winning as much,” Grant said. “It takes the fun out of basketball, and I began to dread it.”

Grant’s frustration with the situation may have been evident on the court, as her playing time increasingly diminished during her first two seasons. Midway through her sophomore season, Grant left the team and the sport she once loved amid some pressure from the coach who had once recruited her.

“It was really tough getting used to the politics of college basketball,” Grant said.

Grant said the decision to leave the team was partly due to her own inability to have a good attitude and be a consistent member of the team.

“It was a lesson for me, a mistake,” Grant said. “I would have done things differently and put myself in a better position if I could do some things over again.”

Her departure from the team left Grant with ample free time to concentrate on academics, but also left her without the scholarship money on which she had depended. Forced to pay out-of-state tuition, she started loading trucks on the graveyard shift at UPS to cover tuition and other bills.

While working and enrolled in school, Grant continued playing basketball, although it was in the unorganized environment offered during open-gym sessions at the Stott Center.

One day during summer 2007, Grant was walking through the Smith Center cafeteria, when she spotted Portland State forward Kelsey Kahle. The former teammates conversed, and Kahle informed Grant that Sherri Murrell had replaced Elliott as head coach. With that said, Kahle encouraged Grant to try out for the team.

Sensing a fresh start with a new coach, the conversation rekindled Grant’s eagerness to get back on the court. After numerous phone calls and several meetings with Murrell and athletic director Torre Chisholm, Grant was granted the opportunity to try out for the squad.

Flash forward to this January. Grant is on the court alongside fellow walk-on players Kate DePaepe and Sarah Cleveland toward the end of the Vikings’ 40-point blowout victory over Idaho State.

Grant hits a shot and a free throw, scoring her first points in a Portland State uniform since December 2005. The three points she registered may have looked insignificant on the box score the following day, but the journey she took just to register those points was nothing short of remarkable.

“It has been special being here with this team,” Grant said. “The players, the coaches, the atmosphere is amazing. We believe in ourselves and in each other. It is so different than before.”

This season Grant has eased into her role as a model player, motivator and, most importantly, defensive stopper.

“Audrey has been great for us. She is really a spark plug out there,” Murrell said. “We have had lots of people step up and contribute for us. Audrey is definitely a big part of that.”

As a member of the Vikings this time around, Grant is simply an example. She is an example of a player who does not fret over playing time. She is an example of a caring teammate. And she is an example of how persistence and internal optimism can propel anyone through even the worst of situations.

Grant is much more comfortable with her revised role, illustrating just how far she has come and how happy she is to be back in the South Park Blocks.