A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to share an awesome story of redemption. For Philahoops, I wrote about sixth year sharp-shooting Chris Fouch‘s battle through two major knee surgeries and a broken ankle that ended his fifth year only three games in. His fight towards becoming a top five scorer in Drexel University history and willing his team to their first CAA title and NCAA tournament bid since the mid-1990s has been a remarkable journey that I hoped to tell with the best of my ability.
Here’s how it all happen…
The idea for the piece came to mind in the days following Fouch’s season-ending broken ankle suffered last season against Penn in mid-November. People started speculating that he would be granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA, which got me thinking to how incredible of a story this could be. We’ve seen sixth year seniors before but not always one who has gone through so much adversity yet still had so much success.
When Fouch was officially granted the sixth year in April of this year, I knew I was going to write it. It was more a matter of when. The ideas for how to handle the lede, the sequence, the overall message started running through my mind. I couldn’t shake the brainstorming. I’m sure any other writer has felt the same way about a story they have written.
I spoke with Fouch and Drexel’s head coach Bruiser Flint prior to the 2013-14 season and asked some questions as prep for the piece. Then I spoke with them both again much closer to the publish date with the sole purpose of the feature in mind. The problem was, though, that I needed to talk to someone in Chris’s family if I really wanted to get a full sense of who Chris Fouch is. It took a little negotiating and convincing Drexel communications office, but eventually I nailed down the interview with Chris’s mother who was one of the nicest people I have ever spoken with. In total, it took about 75 minutes worth of interviews to get this one story that clocked in at a little under 3000 words.
After all of the research and interview gathering was done, I sat down to write it. Over the course of a few days, I would write a little bit and think a lot. I wanted the story to truly reflect the struggle, not just highlighting any one piece. Selfishly, I also wanted to show myself how far I have come as a writer in the past year or so.
Prior to this piece, I had never written a long-form story. I read a ton long-form on my own because I love the story-telling, the effort, and the simple beauty that goes into it. In the past, I’ve tried a similar set-up that I used in the Fouch feature with the alternating stories. That’s what I used in a much shorter story that I wrote on here.
Here is a short excerpt from the full Fouch feature on Philahoops titled “Chris Fouch reaps rewards of resilience.”
At the time, the team was getting ready to fly out to California to participate in the Anaheim Classic. They loaded onto the team bus headed for the airport. They had to make one quick stop, though. They had to check in on their fallen leader.
“They all hugged him,” June said, choking back tears. “That hurt me. That made tears come out of my eyes. I knew the pain that he was feeling.”
Chris watched the team from home. June watched in a different room. She couldn’t bear to see the look on Chris’s face. Just knowing how bad her baby wanted to be out there with his team in his senior year under the bright lights made her tear up.
It was a blessing to have Chris home with the family for Thanksgiving. But it wasn’t the plan. The plan was for June to fly out to Anaheim to watch the team play. She already had purchased the ticket. The plan was to spend Thanksgiving with the team. Instead, the family found themselves sitting around the dinner table wondering what Chris’s next step would be.
How quickly life can change.
Read the full feature here.
I want to thank everyone for reading and for all of the kind words everyone has expressed. Truly, I appreciate all of the positive thoughts and feedback. For me, it’s onto the next story.