WATERFORD -If everything had gone according to plan, 22-year-old senior Sina King would be suited up and preparing to play in the University of Akron women's basketball game against Rochester College at James A. Rhodes Arena Friday at 7 p.m.
Instead, the former Waterford standout will be on the sideline as a student assistant with Akron head coach Jodi Kest in the "We Back Pat" game to raise money for the Pat Summitt Foundation. Summitt, the former legendary head coach of the Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team, has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
King, who wears a medical bracelet, is living with the experiences of having a blood clot and administering blood thinner medication in shot form.
"Right now, I'm traveling with the team, and cheering them on," said King, who is studying to become a dietitian some day. "I'm there for them, and I'm being supportive."
"If you'd asked me last year, if I'd ever thought about becoming a basketball coach some day, I probably would've said 'No,'" she continued. "But now not being able to play the game this season... well, I just don't want to leave it. I think coaching would be an option, now. It's a different view from the bench, and you learn a lot just by watching. It makes you re-think a lot of things."
Life has a way of sometimes dealing setbacks, and the 6-foot King received a health-related one - a blood clot - a few months before the Lady Zips' season tipped off in November. Coping with the adversity, she's adjusted, has a medical redshirt, and is optimistic about the future.
As Christmas fast approaches, King, the youngest of Benny and Katy King's two daughters, knows she has a lot to be thankful for, with a loving family and plethora of friends at the top of the list. But above all, she's just grateful to be young and alive.
Reflecting on the past year, well, let's just say it's been a very interesting and educational one on and off the basketball floor for Sina King, to say the least.
"It's been pretty much a roller coaster ride - I think that's a good way to put it," she said.
As a junior last winter, King was instrumental in helping the UA ladies win the Mid-American Conference East Division. Late in the campaign, she became a career 1,000-point-plus scorer, and in the aftermath of the season, was honored as an All-MAC third-teamer.
Needless to say, King was looking forward very much to capping her 2013-14 senior year on the court on a high note.
But last summer, she experienced a health reversal. It all started out with her being under the weather and seemingly always fatigued. Initially, she thought she might have mononucleosis.
In the family, on her mother's side, there is a history of blood clotting, but King immediately ruled that out. She was after all young and reasonably healthy. During her prep and collegiate basketball careers, she'd been very durable, and never missed a game.
When King returned to Akron in August, though, she just wasn't getting any better, and thought at the time that maybe she had the flu bug.
Then, during basketball conditioning, King's right leg started to swell, and she was having breathing difficulties. She was experiencing a lot of discomfort.
It was time to pay a visit to the Summa Akron City Hospital emergency room. There, she was admitted and tested - and it was confirmed that a potentially lethal blood clot had journeyed from her leg through her heart before breaking up in her lungs. If it had reached her brain, she could've died.
When King was informed by the doctor that basketball was out of the question, it was almost like she was undercut, going in for a layup. She was broken-hearted.
That was several months ago, and now King is being monitored and treated by a specialist at the Cleveland Clinic.
Down the road, things could change, and King (and her doctor) believes they will and that she will be able to resume playing in 2014-15.
"That's the goal," King said.
King, who nearly led Waterford to a state tournament berth in her senior season, has always been passionate about the game and played with confidence. A talented, hard worker, she's beloved by her coaches and teammates.
Her focus right now is getting better and getting back to competing. She is an upbeat and determined young lady.
"Right now, I'm doing well," King said. "I'm lifting and running, and doing some basketball workouts. I'm getting stronger, and just taking it one day at a time.
"In February, it'll be six months since I began taking the blood thinner medication. After that, I'm hoping to begin playing five-on-five basketball."