After serious injury, Nick Minnerath works way back into lineup with big hopes
Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 18:10
If you follow @NickMinnerath on Twitter, you have seen a few tweets regarding his journey back from serious injury.
Minnerath, a native of Cape Cod, Mass., remains quiet in a public setting. But he lets his tattoos and his tweets – informal and not always grammatical – tell the outside world what’s on his mind.
“I take life as it comes knowing I been threw the worst so ima enjoy every minute,” he tweeted recently.
The senior has been through his ups and downs, but he doesn’t view the downs as negatives.
“From what I’ve been through, I take life one day at a time, never taking a moment for granted,” he said. “I’ve had to overcome a lot to get to this moment and I’m going to enjoy it.”
Saturday marked the start of the Titans’ exhibition basketball season – a season for which Minnerath has waited patiently.
The troubles started last December in a game against Bowling Green State University.
“Nick was in the lane taking a charge when he got injured,” said Mike Miller, the team’s medical trainer. “A player for Bowling Green fell into Nick’s knee with all of his weight causing it to collapse.”
Just four games into the season, Minnerath was in a situation no athlete at any level wants to experience.
“After I came out to the floor to assess the injury, Nick got up and walked to the bench by himself,” said Miller. “But as I gave his knee the proper tests, I knew his injury was serious.”
Following an MRI, Minnerath learned that he had torn his anterior cruciate ligament and his medial collateral ligament – an injury that would require two surgeries.
Miller said that Minnerath’s injury was as significant a knee injury as an athlete could have. The recovery period was hard to estimate.
After receiving the news that ended what should have been his senior season, Minnerath knew what he needed to do.
“Sometimes i forget how far ive come, from diggin my own grave to fillen it back in an standin above it.....#OvercomeObstacles,” he tweeted in early October of this year.
High school was one of Minnerath’s low points. He failed his freshman and junior years and broke his ankle his senior year.
“I never got a chance to show my talent to scouts,” Minnerath said. “After high school I just worked for two years. It sucked. I worked for minimum wage.”
Minnerath wanted something more than eking his way through life. He wanted to go back to school.
His father’s girlfriend helped him in his search. She called schools all over the country trying to find him an opportunity.
The Cape Cod native received word someone had interest when Jackson Community College called regarding a tryout.
“I flew out to Michigan and made the team,” Minnerath said. “I dunked over everyone.”
At Jackson Community College, Minnerath became a NJCAA Division II third-team All-American and the school’s first Division I signee after he caught the attention of Titan assistant men’s coach Carlos Briggs.
“Coach Briggs noticed me at the MCAAA all-star game and that’s how I got to where I am today,” Minnerath said.
With Jackson, Minnerath had taken a small opportunity and transformed his life.
So the obstacle of rehabilitation wasn’t anything new.
After his two surgeries last winter, Minnerath knew it was time to go to work.
“From the moment I came to Detroit I told myself I was going to do whatever it takes to be successful,” said Minnerath. “This injury was just something in the way.”
Because it occurred early in the season, he qualified for a medical redshirt, allowing him to compete for one more year – this year.
Miller has seen many anterior cruciate ligament injuries and worked with numerous student-athletes. Minnerath is an outlier to him.
“Since day one Nick has shown me he is willing to give whatever it takes to overcome this injury,” Miller said. “He came in for workouts for five hours at a time. As a trainer I will give my all as long as I see the same level of dedication from the student-athlete. Nick has been the perfect example in overcoming this injury.”
Minnerath’s journey has not been entirely smooth. As one of his tattoos testifies, “I took the road less traveled.”
It is a line from Robert Frost’s famous poem “The Road Not Taken.”
“My life has had its low points, but I have made the decisions to overcome my difficult times,” said Minnerath. “My past is what has shaped me into what I have become today.”
Teammate Ray McCallum, a junior point guard from Beverly Hills, Mich., counts himself among Minnerath’s admirers.
“Nick is a huge part of our team,” said McCallum. “There hasn’t been an early morning in the past six months that I have not seen him in the gym. I have no doubt in my mind that he will play his best and be the toughest player on the court every night.”
Minnerath has made a habit out of overcoming low points. This winter marks a high point. He means what he tweeted on Oct. 12, “Cant even lie, i aint been happy like this in a while, this season been a long time coming.”