Elli Wachtman, senior forward for the Crusader women’s basketball team and fifth-generation Capital student, has suffered multiple leg injuries throughout her college career.
Wachtman has a long family history of alumni going back to her great-great-grandfather, Rev. Dr. Arthur Krause, who graduated in 1906, and later returned to earn a degree from the Capital Seminary in 1909. He marks the first documented member of the Wachtman family to pass through the gates.
Wachtman has 34 documented alumni family members, including her older sister, Annika Wachtman, who was a guard for the women’s basketball team and graduated two years ago.
The family’s athletic background starts with Wachtman’s maternal grandfather, George E. Troutman ‘58, a four-year football player and track and field team member. Troutman held the school outdoor shot put record with a throw of 55-feet, 6.5 inches, which stood until May 2018.
Troutman returned and joined the football coaching staff during the 1970s. Troutman was posthumously inducted into the Capital University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1980.
The same year as the induction, Troutman’s son, also named George, began his college career, and played football for three seasons.
Wachtman has also suffered multiple leg injuries on multiple occasions throughout her college career. Coming into her first year of college, Wachtman was recovering from a torn hamstring that she sustained in her senior year of high school and wasn’t cleared to play until the first game and was still restricted in minutes.
She played about half of the season before developing grade-four stress fractures in both of her legs. She was taken out for the rest of the season and they found eight stress fractures in one leg and six in the other.
Wachtman had to get intramedullary rods in both of her legs. Wachtman was going through all of her physical therapy to return for the second half of her sophomore season. When the pain increased, it affected her performance on the floor and the coach pulled her from play.
Over the course of the summer in 2019, her bones and rods healed in a way that caused pain with any sort of walking and movement.
“There was just no hope at returning to play the game that I love,” Wachtman said.
All of the doctors that she went to had told her that her collegiate basketball career was over and that she wouldn’t be able to return.
She finally met one doctor who agreed to take the rods out to relieve her pain and give her a better quality of life. She was very excited and willing to go ahead with the procedure.
“Of course, the competitor in me, you know, heard that and ran with it … Ultimately, with the goal of returning to the game that I love, with the people that I love, at the school that I love. And by a miracle, God’s grace, it worked out in my favor,” she said.
With the history of injuries, it was unsure that she would be able to return to play this season. Incredibly, Wachtman was cleared to play in the first game this season, Nov. 12 against Denison University.
Silencing all doubt of her playing ability after the injuries, Wachtman played 20 minutes and dropped 20 points. Coming back from the battle to be able to play, the game was very important to her.
“Putting that jersey back on was a very emotional moment, just to represent the school, the tradition, and my family. And to know that I had fought to get it all back,” Wachtman reflected. “It was redeeming. I mean, it made it feel worth it, the battle. To me, that was the sweetest victory of all.”
According to Wachtman, the return to the game was a long, hard-fought journey that had many ups and downs along the way. Demonstrating her abilities on the court in her first game back was rewarding and satisfying.
“It did help boost my personal confidence and made the journey feel worthwhile, knowing that I still had that ability within me.”