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The inspirational story of Gettysburg College senior Cory Weissman and his return to the basketball court three years after suffering a stroke, along with the actions of the coaches and student-athletes that helped make it possible, are gaining media attention.
Weissman was also featured as the No. 10 play on Sportscenter's Top 10 plays for Feb. 16.
Weissman, who suffered a stroke following his freshman year in 2008-09, entered his first game in three years as a starter on Saturday. He also appeared in the game's final minute, when he sunk a free throw for his first collegiate point as the Bullets defeated the Shoremen 83-69.
For more about Weissman's story, visit GettysburgSports.com, click the following media links, or read the Gettysburgian story by Peter Barrett '15 below.
WHP-CBS 21 (Harrisburg) (by Chris Fischer, 2/11/12)
D3hoops.com (by Pat Coleman, 2/13/12)
Washington College (2/14/12)
Baltimore Sun (by Kevin Cowherd, 2/15/12)
Yahoo! Sports (by Jeff Eisenberg, 2/15/12)
Philadelphia Daily News (by Bill Fleischman '60, 2/16/12)
ESPN Top Plays (2/16/12)
D3hoops.com "Hoopsville" (by Dave McHugh, 2/16/12)
NCAA.com (by Pat Coleman, 2/17/12)
New York Times "Quad Blog" (by Peter Barrett '15, 2/17/12)
Harrisburg Patriot-News (by Brad Kane, 2/17/12)
SI.com (by Frank Deford, 2/22/12)
ESPN (by Greg Garber, 2/24/12)
ESPN "College Gameday" (2/25/12)
Sports Illustrated (2/27/12 issue, "Faces in the Crowd" page)
Weissman’s Dream Comes True: A Story of Hard Work & Sportsmanship
By Peter Barrett '15, for The Gettysburgian
It was senior night, there were 17 seconds left, and Cory Weissman was heading to the line for two free throws, and his last chance to score as a Bullet. Gettysburg was leading rival Washington College, and Cory was on the hardwood for the first time since the stroke he suffered in 2009.
The man who spent 2 weeks re-learning how to walk, was the first down to the other end of the court, ready to shoot. The crowd chanted his name, paraded a blown up picture of his head on a stick, and stood, waiting for Cory to have his moment. The first shot rimmed in and out. The crowd nervously clapped, and then fell silent.
Cory slapped his hands with determination. He had overcome too much in the last three years to miss his opportunity to shine. He had one more shot.
Standing 10 feet behind him, waiting for Cory to sink his next attempt, was his fellow Captain Brendan Trelease. Brendan was with Cory on March 26, 2009, the day that changed Cory’s life.
After an offseason basketball practice the two friends went to the weight room. Cory scored 1,000 points in high school, and was wearing a black t-shirt he received at student vs faculty flag football game. On the back of the shirt he wrote “Mr. 1000.”
“We were mid workout, and he came up to me telling me he was not really feeling that well. He said it to me a couple of times. I was like lets go outside, lets get some water,” Brendan said.
The two went into the hallway, and Brendan sat Cory down against the wall. Cory started swaying back and forth, and immediately said: “something is wrong, something is wrong.” Brendan had Cory stand up on his feet, and they were going to walk to the trainers office, just around the corner.
Cory was walking very slowly, so Brendan ran ahead, and called for the trainer. “By the time I turned around, in the five seconds I wasn’t looking at him, the whole left side of his body was completely paralyzed,” Brendan said.
The last memory of that day Cory has is being dragged into the trainers room. “I was being pulled through the training room doors, and I was just staring down at my left leg, completely dragging, dead behind me,” Cory said.
When Cory arrived at the hospital, they cut off his shirt. He would never see it again. “It was almost like a symbol of the situation. I was wearing a shirt that represented my achievement in high school. They cut the shirt off, and it was like I am no longer that person. I will have to change to a new person,” Cory said.
Cory was one of the .2 percent of Americans born with an abnormal blood vessel. Up to this point Cory had never suffered blurred vision, or headaches. He was one of the ten percent whose first symptom was a brain hemorrhage.
As many teammates did, Tri-Captain Tim Lang visited Cory in the hospital, three or four days after his stroke. “It was tough, just seeing him in bed. He could not move half of his body at all. A couple of months later walking was a huge struggle for him,” Lang said. “Now, the physical improvements he has made are incredible, it is all through hard work.”
Two weeks after the stroke, Cory started to gain movement back on the left side of his body and he was checked into the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, where Christopher Reeves, who played Superman rehabbed. “It made me feel really good, that I was going to a place where they took care of Superman,” Cory said. “In my state of mind that helped a lot.”
Just a week into rehab he started demonstrating progress. “I was able to move my fingers a little bit, I was able to work my quad,” Cory said. But still, Cory could not do anything alone. He needed to be changed, and helped to the bathroom. It gave Cory a new perspective on life.
After a long summer, filled with therapy four times a week, Cory was progressing. He went into rehab on a stretcher, and left a couple of months later, walking out with just a cane. Although he returned to campus for his Sophomore year, Cory did not suit up for any basketball games. He refused to put the uniform on again before he could participate in the teams pre game warmup.
“By the time it was Junior year I was running a little bit, at a slow pace. I thought I would be able to do lay up lines with the team, because I was able to do it on my own,” Cory said. But it turned out the pace was still too slow for Cory. He wanted to get better and stronger.
Cory’s will to succeed has inspired the Bullets all season, even when he was frustrated with a lack of progress certain days, he did not outwardly express his emotions. Gettysburg Coach George Petrie greatly admired his work ethic, and often noted it to the team. “He never complained, he never said woe is me, he just went to work,” Petrie said.
“He has had an incredible attitude throughout the whole process. He is always positive, I think that's the biggest thing, the way he has stayed positive, and fought through it, and continued to work hard. I respect him more than anyone I ever met.”
This year Cory reached his goal, warming up with the team before each game. He was back on the hardwood, and now wanted to fulfill his dream of appearing in a game.
Coach Petrie called Cory’s fellow Captains Brendan Trelease, and Tim Lang into his office the night before the game. They discussed the plan to start Cory. That night Tim Lang called Cory to tell him the big news. “I could not even talk to him after that. I didn’t understand the plan, but it was hard for me to even get words out. I told him that I would talk to him tomorrow,” Cory said.
Cory hung up the phone, and broke down, as the last three years of his life flashed before his eyes. After all his hard work he would step onto the court again.
The plan (to which Washington College graciously agreed) was to provide the Gettysburg College supporters an opportunity to acknowledge Cory’s perseverance in the face of adversity. Cory was to start the game for the Bullets. Following the opening tip, the ball was to be passed to Cory so he could stop play by sending the ball out of bounds. On Saturday, the Gettysburg crowd took advantage of that opportunity and raised the roof after Washington College’s Kevin Breslin won the tip and passed the ball to Cory. Cory then left the game accompanied by a thunderous ovation. Plan perfected – but not the end of the game for Cory.
With just under a minute remaining in the game, and the Bullets up 19, Cory checked back into the game, and Coach Nugent called a 30 second time out. “We called time out to make sure we committed the foul,” Nugent said. The ball was inbounded to Cory, whom was immediately fouled by Shoreman Guard Sean Flannigan.
After missing the first free throw, Cory slapped hands with Tim who reminded him to use his legs. “For some reason with the second free throw, I felt the least amount of pressure than I have in my entire basketball career,” Cory said.
He sank it, and the largest crowd of the season at Bream Gymnasium erupted. For Cory, it was the best moment of [his] life.”
For his 21st birthday, Brendan wanted to give Cory something special. He went to Cory’s mom with the idea of recreating his Mr. 1000 shirt. She had it remade, and he gave Cory the best gift he has ever gotten. “Brendan came up to me and said here is a present from me and your mom, and he handed me this soft present in wrapping paper. I had no idea what it was. The second I opened it up I saw a black shirt, and I broke down. I gave him a hug,” Cory said. The real Cory was back.
His old gym teacher used to write daily quotes on a white board. One day, he wrote something that Cory copied to his own refrigerator: “Enjoy today because yesterday is gone, and tomorrow may never come.” That phrase still remains written in expo marker on the side of his fridge. Cory lives by this mantra daily. Call him inspirational, or Mr. 1,001, but to the Bullets he is simply Superman.Posted: Wed, 15 Feb 2012