RICHMOND, Va. — "You can't stay in college forever. I've had a career that I'm proud of. I don't really have a lot of regrets," University of Richmond student and basketball player Nick Sherod said about a year ago after a second ACL injury cost him another season on the court for the Spiders.
He said then he was at peace with everything that happened to him.
"I was fine with it. I was comfortable and ready to move on," Sherod said.
"We sort of all thought that was going to be it," teammate Grant Golden said. "I think he had come to the decision within the next week or so that he was kinda done."
But just weeks after seemingly putting college basketball behind him, Sherod had a glimpse into what life would be like off the court.
He had interviews for teaching positions and financial planner jobs and his new reality quickly opened his eyes.
"I was in my dorm, button-down top, on Zoom talking with bosses of companies. It was a big shift," he said. "You think that the pressure of playing in front of 7,000 fans on national TV is a lot of pressure. It's nothing to when somebody has your financial future on the line on the other end of a phone call. It's a lot more pressure it seems like and puts things into perspective."
That perspective got Sherod thinking about playing again.
Due to NCAA pandemic rules, Sherod and several teammates had a chance to return to the Spiders for one more season.
But for Sherod, another long period of rehab had to come first.
"I didn't want to say, hey put in about four hours of extra work every day and we can make this happen next year," Richmond basketball coach Chris Mooney said. "I didn't want it to be like that."
"We felt like he had come to terms with that decision and we didn't want to rustle any leaves or bring anything back up," Golden added.
As he worked his way back and received encouragement from teammates about returning, Sherod gave it more and more thought.
No one raised any kind of red flag.
In typical fashion, Sherod kept his decision low key and his teammates had to do some detective work to learn he was really coming back.
"We got a text from Coach Mooney, all the seniors, thanking us and telling how excited he was, and Nick was in the text. We were like, well, there it is!" Golden said.
"As with the other three, I was emotional," Mooney added. "It meant a lot to me personally. I think it spoke highly of the university."
Sherod has returned with Golden, Jacob Gilyard, and Nathan Cayo for that extra year on the court.
But his reason for returning is a little different given everything he's been through.
"Really for me, just to go out on my own two feet the way that I wanted. Go out playing. Go out with a jersey on. I didn't put a jersey on one time last year. That's a sad way to end things," Sherod said.
Sherod's perspective on the game and its place in life has shifted yet again. The example he continues to set has not.
"For the younger guys, it's incredible to see because here's a guy who's had tremendous success as a basketball player his entire career," Mooney said. "To see him work that hard would make anybody say 'wow, I really need to get myself into the gym.'"
"He certainly didn't have to make the decision to come back and play but he did anyway because he wanted to try and do something special with us this last year," Golden said. "For him to make that decision and everything he had to go through mentally and physically to do that, it's truly inspiring."
"I'm not necessarily excited to go to practice but it's another chance to play again, an opportunity to try to get better," Sherod said. "Just try to soak up all these moments because this is actually the last time."
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