Off-court heroics spur
another“V” for Cadets © Feb. 7, 2007 Norwich University Office of Communications

Performing well under pressure is something that the Norwich women’s basketball team practices on a daily basis. On Wednesday, Jan. 31, this skill was put to the test, but not on the basketball court.

The team was traveling to New Haven, Conn., for a game against Albertus Magnus when they came across an accident near Exit 4 on Interstate 89.

“I saw dust and debris flying in front of us and then I saw a car land on its roof,” Coach Mark Miller said. Before leading the team off the bus to lend a hand at the scene, Miller said he told the bus driver to call 911.

Once out of the bus, the coach and team members said they saw that a tow truck had collided with a tractor trailer.

“We knew that it wasn’t good, and had to go see if the people were alright,” said Marie Graham ’08, a nursing major and post player on the team.

Teammate Meredith Cox ’09, said that while the situation was stressful, the team knew they had to rise to the occasion and do what ever it would take to help out.

“We were nervous approaching the scene,” Cox said, “but we knew people were hurt and we were focused on helping them.”

The team maneuvered their way through the wreckage, pausing to check inside vehicles for injured drivers and passengers. Assistant student coach Danielle Renaud ’08 said when she reached the tow truck, “I saw that the driver was pinned in by the steering wheel. He was disoriented and unresponsive at first.”

Cox said that although the driver was bleeding and noticeably confused, “he came around pretty quickly once we started talking to him.”

Although it only took fifteen minutes for first responders to reach the scene, Miller said “it seemed like forever.” Once the two firemen arrived, the team stuck around and assisted as fireman cut the driver out of the tow truck. The driver, later identified as Gary Phelps of New Hampshire, was flown to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center to be treated for his injuries.

Moving on to New Havan, Graham said the team “talked on the bus to re-focus on the team and the game.” And that refocusing paid off; the lady Cadets came away from the match with a resounding 72 – 41 win.

“It was one of those things that gets your adrenaline going,” Renaud said. “You don’t think about it until afterwards. That’s where the training comes in handy.”

Miller said it was clear that the team has a good understanding of how to focus and stay calm under pressure, both on and off the court.

“The kids were great; they did a really good job staying cool,” he said. “It was a terrible thing that happened, but it was good that we were there to help.”