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The Voice of the Black Community
True grit
FSU's Calvin battles from third ACL surgery
Published Thursday, January 23, 2014 6:12 am
by Adam Lawson

FAYETTEVILLE – As Amber Calvin drilled corner 3-pointers and sunk five last-minute free throws in a win against Elizabeth City State last week, it appeared the Fayetteville State senior guard has been playing basketball with almost effortless grace for quite some time.

Fayetteville State guard Amber Calvin hasn’t let injury setbacks keep her off the hardwood.

But to assume that would be refusing to acknowledge the amount of wear and tear Calvin’s had to endure throughout her young life. The Fayetteville native is a product of three different anterior cruciate ligament surgeries, each coming with wicked timing the guard has had to fight through.

Coming off a state championship her sophomore year at South View High School, Calvin was close to playing herself into a mid-major Division I scholarship. But a tear in her left knee took all those initial offers away. A sampling of schools that pulled back scholarship flirtations included East Carolina, Pfeiffer, DePaul and Western Carolina.

“I pretty much lost everybody that was recruiting me,” Calvin said. “Pretty much everybody.”

Calvin came back for her senior season at South View and played well enough to earn a scholarship at North Carolina A&T. Her freshman season with the Aggies came with the type of success any newcomer dreams of: immediate playing time, production and notoriety. Calvin started 26 of 33 games, averaging, 10.9 points, 2.8 assists and 2.5 rebounds in 27.4 minutes per game. She finished in double-figures 19 times and had a fabulous three-game run in the WNIT, averaging 22. points en route to leading A&T to wins over Wake Forest and Charlotte. 

“I was feeling 100 percent,” Calvin said. “I felt like I was the old Amber in high school again.”

But then, it was the right knee. Another ACL surgery and another nine months of rehabilitation. Then things got worse.

“The first day I got released after my injury in college, I tore it again the same day that I was released,” Calvin said. “Same exact day. That was pretty tough, just going through it mentally for the first nine months that I had to sit out for the first one, knowing I had another nine months coming.”

Calvin sat out the 2010-11 season, but came back the next year and started in 28 of 29 games. She played that season and the next one for the Aggies, compiling more than 1,000 points and 200 rebounds. 

With another year of eligibility remaining, she decided to take her talents back home to Fayetteville State. But she wasn’t exactly sure FSU coach Eva Patterson-Heath – who coached against her at Red Springs High School – wanted her. Yes, Patterson-Heath wanted Calvin on the basketball court. She didn’t even have to watch college tape of her to know that. She still remembered the South View phenom that was nearly impossible to game plan for.

But, like all her student-athletes, Patterson-Heath is excited about Calvin graduating. She is just a few credits short of completing her liberal studies major and plans to go into the Air Force after graduation in a medical capacity.

“It shows a tremendous amount of drive that she has for herself and passion that she has for the game of basketball,” Patterson-Heath said. “It’s not just about basketball. Being able to overcome obstacles once or twice or, in this case, three times and still have some kind of stability as it relates to what you want to do is certainly going to prepare her into a tremendous young woman in life, really.”

Calvin is tied with teammate Deja Middleton for sixth in the CIAA with 13.9 points per game. She’s logging the 10th-most minutes per contest (30), the third-most 3-pointers (26) and seventh-best 3-point percentage (29.9 percent). She’s the league’s fifth-best foul shooter (86 percent) and her 39 assists rank ninth in the conference.

“It’s my teammates,” Calvin said. “I have great teammates. They’re always encouraging me. Even when I first got here I was thinking ‘How am I going to get along with a whole new group of people? Are they even going to want me here?’ But it seems like I fit in right from the beginning.”




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