Chasity Melvin – Cleveland Rockers

Starting center Chasity Melvin gets a lot of teasing by her fellow Rockers for being the “baby” of the team. So when she caught a stray elbow during a July 8th game against Houston, she wasn’t about to complain. Besides, the 6’3″ center, averaging 11.4 points and 6.7 rebounds a game, was playing a pivotal role in the Rockers early season success.

But when Melvin started feeling dizzy during practice, she knew it was serious. A visit to the doctor revealed she’d suffered a fractured orbital bone in her right eye. “It was scary,” admits Melvin. “The doctor told me if I’d gotten hit in my eye again, I would have had surgery and been out for the rest of the season.”

Instead, Melvin missed 5 games and, while the Rockers continued winning, sitting on the bench was torture. When she did finally return to play, doctors recommended she wear a plastic protective mask. Initially Melvin resisted but, she confesses, “My Momma told me I had to. And, I have to listen to my mother. Most of the time she’s right – and even when she’s NOT right, she’s ALMOST right.”

“I hated playing with the mask,” admits Melvin. Not just because it was sweaty, slipped every time she got hit, or forced her to adjust the sighting of outside shots. As a player who’s never had a major injury — who should wear knees braces but doesn’t — the very existence of the mask was a reminder of injury.

Though the Rockers winning ways continued with her return, Melvin points to her injury as one of several little personnel (nb Nemcova in and out/Hall leaving) disruptions that forced players into different roles, breaking the flow and focus of the young team. That, combined with a veteran Charlotte team that had nothing to lose, contributed to Cleveland’s unexpected exit in the first round of the playoffs.

When pressed, though, Melvin can admit there was one unexpected benefit of her time on the bench. “I got to dress up,” she laughs. “Everybody would call my mom and say, “Chasity looks so nice!” and my Mom would say, “Yeah, my baby’s pretty. Why are y’all calling and telling me that!”

As for the despised mask, Melvin is holding on to it as a keepsake. That is, if she can find it after everyone in her family finishes trying it on.

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