Two set backs for Offutt prove to bring a new look on life
By Stacey Freyer, Ohio State Athletics Communications Stacey Freyer, Ohio State Athletics Communications
In athletics, as in every aspect of life, there are ups and downs a person encounters throughout their life; a cycle of good and bad which cannot be controlled. In sports, it may be an injury or a bad season, but it is how an athlete deals with the challenges and perseveres through adversity that will make him or her truly capable of achievement.
Walter Offutt has seen the good and the bad of basketball. Offutt was a freshman starter for Warren Central High School’s varsity team in Indianapolis. He was named All-Marion County and All-Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference in a conference that produced former Buckeyes Greg Oden and Mike Conley, Jr. Everything was looking bright for the up and coming star until an open gym basketball game put an early end to his freshman season and a slow start to his sophomore year.
Offutt had suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) an injury which took him out of play for the remainder of his first season. It did not slow Offutt, though. Through pain and hard work he managed to be back on the court for his sophomore season and received a scholarship offer from Ohio State. After committing to be a Buckeye, Offutt knew he had to continue working hard and prepared for his remaining two years of high school.
“You have to make the best out of it. Through the injuries, I became more humble. I was kind of cocky as a little high school player. Now, I’m able to use that to be humble. I’m doing better now.”
Offutt managed to come back strong and healthy for his junior season. Again, he earned a starting position and an array of accolades to add to his collection. He averaged 17.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.1 steals and was looking to become a career leader in all four categories during his senior season. His dream fell short, though. During his second game of his senior year he once again tore his ACL.
“It was heartbreaking, but I’m battling back now and trying to get healthy,” Offutt said. “You have to make the best out of it. Through the injuries, I became more humble. I was kind of cocky as a little high school player. Now, I’m able to use that to be humble. I’m doing better now.”
With willingness and persistence, Offutt continued to make strides with his injury. After talking with Coach Matta and former Ohio State assistant coach, John Groce, the three knew Ohio State basketball was not out of the picture.
“I remember calling coach Matta in my room after the doctor said I tore my ACL,” Offutt said. “He was like You have to be kidding me. Not again.’ I remember him saying he wasn’t giving up on me and he believed in me 100 percent and would be behind me in this and to get you ready to go.”
Offutt used the injury, those who doubted him and a future at Ohio State as motivation. He pushed himself to prove his doubters wrong and show he could still play at the level Ohio State expected.
Offutt still continues to push hard every day in practice and in every part of his life to achieve at a higher level.
“I don’t take many things for granted now.” Offutt said. “I enjoy going out there and working hard. Working hard is part of my everyday life no matter if it is school work or practice. I read my Bible a lot and I try to do every day things to help me in life and help me succeed. No matter what I do in life, if it is basketball, family or education, I want to be the best and be able to tell my kids when I grow up that I worked hard and this is where it got me. I want to be able to show my family when you work hard it can take you anywhere.”
His motivation and positive outlook is seen by the players, coaches and those surrounding him every day to impact their lives whether if on the court, in the classroom or at home.
“Honestly, Walter is one of the best teammates I’ve ever had,” Jon Diebler, Ohio State sophomore guard, said. “He comes every day to practice with the same positive attitude. He plays hard every single day regardless of how many minutes he played the last game or regardless of what he did. He just brings so much energy and enthusiasm – he gets everybody going.”
Offutt will continue to contribute to the Buckeyes on and off the court. Through his struggles and hardships he has learned to be a stronger person and share his optimism throughout his fellow players.
“I hope to bring toughness and mental toughness to the team,” Offutt said. “I’m here to contribute to the team and help the team get better in practice and to push my teammates to become better basketball players.”
And Offutt knows, in the end, no matter what the struggle, everything will be okay.