‘She has chosen to rise above adversity’: Keane as a role model for women’s basketball
The Washington University men’s and women’s basketball teams finish their respective regular seasons with afternoon matchups against the University of Chicago on Saturday. The No. 13 men come into the weekend in sole possession of first place in the University Athletic Association. With a victory over the Maroons (6-7), the Bears (11-2) would win the conference outright and get an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. For the women, the stakes are not as high. After an historic loss to New York University Sunday, the Bears (7-6) are all but guaranteed to miss the playoffs. Ahead of the finish to the regular season, staff reporter Miguel Campos profiled a senior from each basketball team.
During her senior year of high school, women’s basketball senior guard Camille Keane tore her right ACL. She had loved basketball her whole life, and it was hard for her to sit out on the sidelines as she recovered. Keane missed a significant amount of time, which was rough, especially since she had looked forward to being a leader on the court that year.
Yet, despite having to sit out during the extensive rehab process, her previous high school accomplishments and high ceiling allowed her to grab the attention of the Washington University women’s basketball program, so she joined the Red and Green.
Since then, Keane has been a leader for the Bears. Fellow players and her head coach will tell you that she is the epitome of not giving up, of refusing to quit when life knocks her down. All of this comes while making sure her teammates elevate their game to the highest level possible.
“I got to Wash. U. my freshman year and it was really exciting here,” Keane said. “Being able to contribute whatever I could in whatever capacity was just a really fun way to play basketball―it was a great place where I could start growing and evolving as a player.”
After getting a taste of what Wash. U. basketball held in store for her, Keane was determined to make that next step during her sophomore year. Despite her enthusiasm, the second game of the new campaign also came with some misfortune. She tore her left meniscus, taking her out for the rest of her second year.
“I had to stay off the court and watch on the sidelines, which is probably the hardest part mentally,” she said. She worked hard to come back, though, and was ready to play come junior year.
But then, on Nov. 16, 2018, in Keane’s first game back from her second major injury in the span of just three years, the injury bug struck once more. “I was trying to defend the baseline drive, I cut her off, and I just heard everything pop,” Keane said. “I knew right then and there when I landed, it was definitely an ACL tear.”
Though she kept encountering injury trouble, Keane’s determination and perseverance remained unfazed and as strong as ever.
“‘I’ll be back,’” head coach Randi Henderson said of what Keane told her right after tearing her ACL for the second time. “It’s a long process to get back. It takes six to eight months, sometimes a year, depending on the damage that’s done to your knee, and that’s not even getting full strength, speed and explosiveness back, and sometimes you never get that stuff back.”
Freshman guard Ingrid Keane, Camille’s younger sister, remembers the day Camille tore her ACL a second time. “She was like ‘You know what, I’m just going to work through it, I’m going to come back,’ and she was already thinking on how to come back and when she would come back,” Ingrid said. “She’s always been very headstrong and she’s loved basketball so much that I don’t think she could see herself not playing it.”
Despite the fact that Keane’s presence on the court was limited for a decent chunk of her undergraduate career, she maintained her presence on the team by taking a significant coaching role as she herself tried to climb herself back up.
“I think when you’re sitting out on the sideline, you have a couple of choices. One is to sit there and do nothing, and the other is to stand up and be engaged and involved,” Henderson said. “Over the course of last year, she saw moments where she could speak up that she maybe normally wouldn’t have spoken up.”
Keane said that she and Henderson worked together to create a culture of diligence and drive on the team. “Hard work mentality that goes all out all the time, no matter what the scenarios, no matter how you’re feeling, making those unselfish plays,” Keane said.
“[Camille] has a very high basketball IQ and she knows how our coach wants to run things,” Ingrid said. “She’s basically our main captain and people look up to her―people even looked up to her when she was hurt and injured on the sidelines, so she’s a very good leader for our team.”
Sophomore forward Samantha Weaver admired Camille’s tenacity. “From what I could tell you, it hasn’t been an easy road, but the fact that’s she’s still here and pushing through―her attitude about playing and being here at Wash. U., it just helps everyone,” she said.
With the arduous journey that Keane has travelled, there is the opportunity for the younger Bears to learn from Keane’s demeanor. “I think the one thing that you can’t deny about Camille is that she cares, and honestly that’s the basis of everything,” Weaver said. “You just gotta care, so that means showing up every day, whether you’re feeling good or bad, doing what you can.”
Henderson said that what has impressed her about Keane has been her ability to keep fighting. “Camille is an example of someone that isn’t interested in excuses,” she said. “She has chosen to rise above adversity and do things despite her circumstances. I think that is a great lesson for people to learn, that there is nothing that can take away from the experience that you want to create for yourself.”