By Jeff Kurowski
|Brigette Baudhuin ’12
No one would have questioned Brigette Baudhuin ’12 if she chose to walk away from basketball, but that’s not in her nature. This season, the senior forward from Brussels, Wis., is determined to finish what she started.
Baudhuin suffers from psoriatic arthritis. She was diagnosed with the condition the summer before her junior year at Southern Door High School, when she noticed
unusual symptoms after returning from a family vacation in Mexico. “My joints started swelling really badly where I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning,” she says. “My mom would have to roll me out of bed.”
Baudhuin, who also was a standout volleyball player in high school, feared that her days as an athlete were over. Dr. David Keim, a rheumatologist, believed otherwise. “He was very up front with me and very positive,” says Baudhuin. “He said, ‘We are going to get you back on the court.’ Within a month, I was back on the court.”
Baudhuin’s pain and discomfort vary day to day. She struggles on humid, rainy and frigid days. Swelling in her fingers and knees affects her ability to catch the basketball and run the court, yet she perseveres.
“I’ve been battling through it,” she says. “My teammates are there for me. They know what I’m going through and are so supportive. I try to internalize it and deal with it myself. Everyone has issues that they have to deal with in life. It doesn’t define who I am.” Regular injections administered by her mother, Connie – Baudhuin’s youth basketball coach – help treat the inflammatory arthritis and have forced Baudhuin to overcome her fear of needles. “I used to pass out when I got shots,” she says. “Every time a needle came near me I would faint.”
Right now, Baudhuin is happy to be playing the game she loves. “When I was diagnosed, I wasn’t thinking about playing college basketball,” she says. “I was thinking about if I was going to be able to walk or hold a toothbrush in the morning. When buttoning your jeans becomes a challenge, you definitely rethink athletics, but I don’t know what I would do without sports. They really are a big part of my life.”
“It’s remarkable what she puts up with in order to play,” says women’s basketball coach Connie Tilley. “She is one of our captains this season and is a total team player. It’s a demanding game at this level. We demand so much from a defensive standpoint, and Brigette never complains. I’m just so proud that she’s able to live a dream.”
Baudhuin suffered a physical setback last season. She tried playing with a stress fracture in her foot, but in the third game of the season the bone fractured completely. She missed four weeks. Baudhuin is hoping for a healthy and successful final collegiate season. “I really want to contribute,” says Baudhuin. “I want to help motivate the underclassmen. Being selected a captain means a lot to me. It’s great that Coach Tilley respects me enough to put that trust in me and that my teammates believe in my leadership enough that they put me in that position. I hope I do good things for the program.”
“I can’t even give you in words how impressed I am by her as a person,” says Tilley. “People like Brigette are the reason I became a coach.”
The St. Norbert women are two-time defending conference champions. Winning a third consecutive title would be a rewarding way to go out, says Baudhuin, one of three seniors (along with Krista Pelky ’12 and Jamie Kuhl ’12). “These are your sisters for life,” she says of her teammates. “You take a sense of pride
in working hard every day. No one sees us practice hard every day for two to three hours in the gym.
Oct. 31, 2011