Feb. 3, 2011
By Kelly Taylor
Collegiate athletes possess countless goals upon joining teams at top-notch institutions.
Now in her fourth year with the Notre Dame women's basketball team, standout forward Devereaux Peters is enjoying a stellar senior season.
However, her success hasn't come easy. Before getting a chance to make her mark during the 2010-11 season, Peters endured three seasons cut short by a string of major injuries.
As a freshman, Peters suffered from a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her left knee during a February home game against Pittsburgh. She underwent surgery and spent the remainder of the season and summer months rehabilitating. As her sophomore season began, she suffered the same injury in the third game of the season at Boston College.
Peters commented on how the initial injury came as a shock. "The first [injury] was harder than the second one, it was just a shock when it happened and it was tough to get through it," says Peters.
Despite her misfortune, she never contemplated giving up the game: "It's a decision right then and there if you want to keep playing or not, and I wanted to keep playing."
Following her second ACL tear, the 6-2 Peters had a two-part surgery to finally fix the problem. She was forced to miss the entire summer workout program while regaining her strength. She was unable to see game action until Dec. 29, 2009 during her junior year.
"It was easier to go through rehab [the second time] just because I had already done it and knew what was in store," she says.
"I think I was just more mentally prepared for it."
A native of Chicago, Ill., Peters maintained a strong mental toughness throughout the strenuous rehabilitation process. Luckily, her teammates and coaches offered their constant support. Peters attended daily practices and continued to travel with the team. She also noted the caring support of her fans, who offered her cards and well wishes.
"I had a lot of support throughout; it was great to feel a part of the team even though I was injured," says Peters.
"I could still contribute, just in different ways."
Peters reflects on the potential benefits that arose as a result of her injuries. After sitting out for so long, she broadened her knowledge of the game, gaining a better understanding of the discrepancies between playing and watching.
"Being that I was out for awhile, I have a different perspective than most people on the team," comments Peters. "They look for me to be the mediator between the coaches and the players."
A television studies major, Peters started dribbling the basketball at the age of five, admitting she was fulfilling her dad's wishes.
"My dad, I think he wanted a boy," she jokingly admits.
Transitioning from her early days to now, Notre Dame has provided the best of both worlds.
"I thought it was the best balance of academics and basketball and I really liked Coach McGraw and the players that were here," says Peters.
After making just three starts in her first three seasons, Peters has started very game this year and is third in scoring, averaging 11.5 points per game with a team-high 7.2 rebounds per game. Moreover, she became the first player to block a shot by Baylor's 6-8 sophomore center Brittney Griner. Peters plans to finish out her senior campaign and then take advantage of her final year of eligibility next season.
For now, Peters values her spot on the court. "It's been a long time, so it's really nice to be able to play from the summer and be able to work out with everybody," she says.
"I really appreciate it a lot more than I did before."
Off the court, Peters relishes the relationships she has with her teammates.
"The team and coaches in general, we have a really close bond," she says.
"We don't have any issues and you don't really see that with most teams."
Setting her sights high for her senior season, Peters ultimately wants to win a national championship.
"Whatever I can do to make that happen is what I want to accomplish," she says.
Hopefully, Peters can remain injury-free to make her goal and the goals of the Fighting Irish women's basketball team become a reality.