HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Brittany Berry, a Hope College senior, will graduate as the most productive three-point shooter in the school’s history.
It’s an individual honor for the most consummate team player in a career that almost wasn’t.
“It’s everything I could have ever expected, out of a playing career,” said Berry.
As a high school sophomore at Grand Rapids Catholic Central, Berry suffered a devastating knee injury. She tore her ACL, LCL and PCL, basically blew the whole knee out.
“I just think about the journey and it just is amazing what perseverance and resilience can do,” said women’s head coach at Hope College, Brian Morehouse.
Less than a year later, after rehab and in preparation for her junior season, Berry started suffering intense stomach pains.
“Within a week’s span, all of a sudden I was in an oncology office and they were like, we’re going into surgery tomorrow,” said Berry.
She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, a disease that attacks 20,000 women in the U.S. each year — most over the age of 45. Berry was just 17.
“My oncologist showed me the X-rays, and you know, I had a cyst on my right one, I had a tumor on the left,” Berry said. “They ended up taking out my left ovary.”
After another long recovery and rehab, with the help of her family and high school coach Colleen Lamaoreaux-Tate, Berry was able to recover.
“When I called her, I was like Colleen, he just told me that I have, I could have kemo, I could have chemo, I don’t know, and I just broke down and she was like ‘no, we’re getting through this,’” said Berry.
Berry returned as a senior and helped the Cougars win the 2010 Division 3 State Championships.
She would go on to play at Hope College as a freshman, but something wasn’t right.
“I think that I knew it was going to be a physical toll on me. I don’t think I realized how hard the mental toll, even from the moment of surgery to five years down the road, how hard that was going to be on me and it was,” said Berry.“You know, I was just very angry. Like I felt like I was just under this cloud. I didn’t know how to approach my sadness, my anger.”
By her sophomore year, she could no longer hide her struggles.
“I had to take that year off to accept the fact that I was going through some serious depression. I was anxious. I was sad. There were mornings that I would wake up and didn’t want to get out of bed,” said Berry. “You know, I have all these blessings, you know, roof over my head, I play at one of the most beautiful gyms in the country for one of the best teams in the country and all I could think about when I got up was how am I going to get through this day.”
Yet, she did. And with the blessing and help of Hope coach Brian Morehouse — without basketball.
“He truly was like, ‘Life is so much bigger than basketball, we need to get through this,’” said Berry. “I didn’t know if I was going to come back anyways, so he didn’t need to stay connected with me, but he did.”
“As an athlete, you don’t want to be weak, and I felt weak because of it until I went and got help, I saw a counselor, got medicated, got help from friends,” said Berry.
She returned to the team as a junior and this year, as a senior, set the women’s all-time single season and overall school career three-point record.
“Looking back if I would have tried playing through that year and not got help, it’s hard to say, but I don’t know if I would even be here today,” said Berry. “So I’m very thankful for Hope, for this program.”
“She’s going to go into business. Someone is going to hire that young lady and they are going to get a rock star,” said Morehosue.
The rock star and the rest of the Dutch will try to extend their season and Berry’s career in the opening round of the NCAA National Tournament in Wisconsin.