The Iowa Hawkeyes have been decimated by injuries this season. The headaches for head coach Lisa Bluder began in early November, when the team lost its lone senior, JoAnn Hamlin, to a potentially life-threatening blood clot. Hamlin is done for the season, and likely for her career.
Then the team announced in quick succession the loss of freshman Theirra Taylor to a torn ACL in her right knee (gone for the season) and sophomore Hannah Draxten to a herniated disc in her back (also done for the year).
But down to a roster of just eight players, most of them freshmen and sophomores, Bluder found help already on campus. Yesterday, the University announced that Megan Considine had officially joined the squad as a walk-on. It was a dream come true for the sophomore, who had been the captain and MVP of her Byron (Illinois) girls' basketball team for three of her four years in high school. And if Considine's family history is any clue, it could turn out to be a dream come true for Bluder and her hobbled team as well.
Considine was a four-time first-team all-conference pick (a unanimous selection in 2007 and 2008), as she helped lead the team to four-straight regional championships, two sectional titles, one super-sectional win and a trip to the Illinois Elite Eight. She was named to 11 different all-state teams during her high school career, including first-team Illinois Basketball Coaches Association honors in 2007 and 2008, along with Illinois Basketball Services first team accolades in 2006-08. Considine was also named second team all-state by the Chicago Sun-Times in 2006. In her four-year high school career, Byron never lost a home game, while Considine racked up the school's all-time records for career points (2,077), assists (498) and steals (582).
But though Considine finished ninth in the voting for the 2008 Illinois Miss Basketball award, given to the top prep player in the state, the recruiters didn't come a-knockin' in her senior year. At least, not the ones she wanted to talk to.
Considine knew she wanted to attend a Big Ten school even before she started high school, she told her local newspaper, the Rockford Register Star, when she announced that she would be hanging up her high tops and attending Iowa as a business student, but not as a basketball player. She wanted to go to Iowa -- and decided that at the very least, it was the Big Ten or bust -- while watching her brother Sean play football for the Hawkeyes.
She made a few visits to Missouri Valley Conference schools, but admits she didn't show much interest, and thus did not get any offers. And neither Iowa, nor anyone else in the Big Ten -- or for that matter, anyone else in Division I -- offered her a basketball scholarship. And though she also lettered in track, anchoring Byron's state championship 4X200 relay team and finishing in second-place in the state in the 4x100 relay, and in volleyball, she didn't get any scholarship offers in those sports either.
Bradley came through with a basketball offer in March of her senior year, but she would have had to walk on for the first year as the program had already run through its allotment of scholarships.
Instead, she decided to call it quits in sports, and attend Iowa for its academics, rather than its athletics. At the time, she was philosophical about her decision.
Class A basketball is much different than college basketball," she told the Register Star. "Division I is more of a job. I wanted to keep basketball as something I loved.
Ive been a three-sport athlete because I like almost every sport equally," Considine added. "Ive had more success in basketball, so I pursued that more, but I dont have the obsession for the sport you need to carry it on to college."
But Considine did have regrets. I feel bad about doing this," she said. "I could have gotten a scholarship and helped my parents, but they didnt put pressure on me to take any money. Im glad they gave me the choice."
And she must still harbor some passion for the sport, because when the door opened for her to walk-on to the Iowa squad, she walked right through it. And Bluder is glad she did.
We are glad that Megan is joining our team mid-season, Bluder said. She will give us much needed depth at the guard position, due to the loss of so many of our players after injuries. Megan comes from an athletic family that has tremendous Iowa roots. We are fortunate to have her on campus already, and that she can join us in the middle of our season.
An "athletic family" considerably understates the case, and Considine, is not the first member of that family to have to prove herself as a walk-on.
Remember brother Sean, whose glory days on the Iowa gridiron led Considine to decide it would be nothing less than the Big Ten for her future? College recruiters gave him the same cold shoulder his sister experienced. He walked on to the football team at Iowa and earned a scholarship his second year. He finished there as an Academic All-American and is now in his fifth year in the NFL. After being drafted in the fourth round by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2005, he started at strong safety for the first eight games of 2007 before his season was cut short by a shoulder injury that landed him on the injured reserve. He currently plays free safety and special teams for the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he was picked up last year as an unrestricted free agent.
As for the rest of Considine's athletic family: Big brother, Ryan, also a multi-sport athlete and the Byron team MVP in both football and basketball, went to Iowa -- on a baseball scholarship. He played for two years, but gave up the sport to focus on his studies as a senior.
And her father Rick was a four-year member of the varsity football team at Northern Illinois from 1980-84, starting for LIU's last MAC championship football team.
If Considine proves to have half the athletic success in her sport as her father and siblings enjoyed in theirs, Bluder will have discovered a diamond in the rough.