As for many teenaged boys, sports has played a significant role in Sam Ready’s life.
When he began high school at Brookswood Secondary, he was commonly referred to as “the basketball kid.”
So it was a huge blow when Ready was forced to miss nearly his entire Grade 10 season of hoops following back surgery to correct a degenerative condition called spondylolysis.
The problem actually surfaced a few years earlier, when Ready was still in elementary school.
Ready, never shy to try a daring physical challenge had assumed he had just tweaked his back, most likely when he jumped into the Fraser River off a bridge in Fort Langley.
Ready had been experiencing back pain and it was finally diagnosed at BC Children’s Hospital.
“A dull ache, always constantly there. I couldn’t sit for more than 30 minutes without having to walk around and stretch it out,” he described.
“But by Grade 10, every day, I was waking up and feeling like an old man — my back was killing me.”
Health concerns aside, even his surgery date was calculated with high school sports in mind.
The surgery — which fuses the spine together — was performed in September 2015 and he was given a time frame of six to eight months for recovery.
Ever the optimist, Ready made sure to get a follow-up appointment that February, in the hopes he could suit back up for the Bobcats junior basketball team, should they qualify for provincials.
The recovery process itself was fine, just lots of rest and recovery. The difficult part was being away from the game he loved and having to be forced to watch his teammates play knowing his presence could have made an impact.
“Just watching them (especially when they lost) was tough, especially knowing I could have added my 20 points and 10 rebounds,” he said. “It was just real hard.”
Sure enough, five and a half months after surgery, and Ready was back on the court.
“I was just so happy. I remember I put on Back in Black by AC/DC and was just jamming out, I was so pumped,” he said.
The ’Cats did qualify for the junior boys provincial basketball championships but there would be no storybook ending with the return of one of their leaders, coming back to steer them to a provincial title.
That may have been disappointing team-wise, but Ready — a six-foot-five post player — was just happy to be back on the court, even if he wasn’t up to full speed physically.
That included falling on his face a few times.
“My legs and my feet didn’t move how I wanted to or how they did in the past,” he explained. “I remember it took a couple of months to get back in the groove and get in touch with my body again.”
By his Grade 11 year, he was good to go full bore on the basketball court for his final two years of high school basketball.
“To have him back, guys just rallied around (him),” said Daniel Allingham, one of the Brookswood senior boys basketball coaches.
“He doesn’t get guys hyped up, you just give him the ball and you know he will get it done.”
And while his basketball career did end the way he wanted — they qualified for provincials in 2017, ending an 11-year drought — the team came up short this past year.
Regardless, the fact he was back on the court was a huge thing for Ready, especially considering where he was two years ago physically.