×

Sixth-year senior Garrett Covington discusses rehabbing Achilles, decision to return to YSU

Correspondent file photo / Robert Hayes YSU forward Garrett Covington, right, drives against St. Thomas’ Will Engels during their matchup on Nov. 19. Covington suffered a season-ending injury later in the game.

YOUNGSTOWN — It’s been an unusual, even difficult, past seven months or so for Garrett Covington.

Between rehabbing from an Achilles injury and opting to return to Youngstown State for a sixth season after exploring options in the transfer portal, Covington has found himself in a position he’s never experienced before.

On Nov. 19, Covington and the Youngstown State men’s basketball team were hosting St. Thomas on Day 1 of a three-day multiteam event.

With about 5:41 to go in the first half, Covington dropped to the floor and subsequently exited the contest with what wound up being a season-ending Achilles injury.

“I had never really been hurt before,” Covington said Friday. “So right when I did it, I could see the emotion in my dad’s eyes, and I didn’t really understand it. But talking to him, he was so worried because of how stressful and how long this process is.”

It’s a process that’s ongoing, even now, as the Penguins go through their summer workouts. Covington still hasn’t been cleared to return, though he is optimistic that it will come in the next month or so. He visits a doctor on Monday, he said.

Post-surgery, Covington was non-weight bearing for a couple months, and couldn’t do much in terms of rehabbing while he was in a cast.

Once that cast was removed, he had a “little cup” in his shoe, but it wasn’t until about month four that he began rehabbing, he said.

“It was a long process before I could actually get in there and do anything,” Covington said. “It’s been a very slow process, and a very long one.”

Once he could begin rehabbing, it was a gradual, step-by-step process. In the beginning, Covington said some sessions were as short as 10 minutes.

“I would come in and warm up with a heating pad, and then I would transition into holding onto something and just kind of shift my weight onto my torn Achilles,” he explained. “It was very minor stuff … but it’s just all stuff to kind of reintroduce the functional movement or my foot and the Achilles.”

Now, with an eye toward his return, Covington says he’s focused on the mental side of things.

“I’ve gotten through the physical aspect. Now it’s all mental at this point. I haven’t done something as simple as jumping in so long, so I kind of have to train myself to do it again,” he said.

In addition to rehabbing that injury, Covington also put his name in the transfer portal March 25. Still, he always had Youngstown in mind, he said. On May 19, YSU head coach Jerrod Calhoun told local media Covington would be returning.

“The portal for me … I think where I’m at in my life is just trying to figure out how to create new experiences,” said Covington, who’s scored 1,203 points in 123 games as a Penguin. “My decision to enter the portal initially wasn’t a decision that was based on me wanting to leave (YSU). I was based solely on trying to bring forth different opportunities.

“(At) Youngstown, we had accomplished everything but a Horizon League championship, and I felt like that was the missing piece for me. So naturally, in my head while I’m in the portal, I’m still thinking about Youngstown. So coming back was strongly based on the fact that I’m super competitive and I want to win, and Youngstown — we say this every year — but we want to do something that hasn’t been done here and put a banner up here.”

So between that and his relationship with the YSU coaching staff — which he describes as “family members” — he opted to return.

Now that he’s gotten his first glimpse of much of the upcoming season’s roster, he likes what he sees.

The Penguins added a lot of firepower in the transfer portal this offseason, picking up forwards Adrian Nelson from Horizon League foe Northern Kentucky and Malek Green from Canisius. They also added guards Brandon Rush (Fairleigh Dickinson) and Bryce McBride (Eastern Michigan) through the portal and signed freshman forward John Lovelace Jr., a Milwaukee native.

“I think the coaches have done an incredible job at kind of finding the things that we’ve been missing, and kind of putting that together with the people we had coming back,” Covington said. “The new guys, they’re fourth- and fifth-year guys, so there’s a lot of older guys with a lot of experience. There’s things that we go through in practice that they’re getting down (immediately), and we’re doing it in live action in a couple of minutes. It’s good that you have so much experience along with people that have already been here.”

He highlighted the balance this year’s team should have, and added, “Our guard play this year is going to be a lot of fun to watch. … They’re great additions because they’re all aggressive. They put pressure on defenses, and it’s really going to be hard to combat that.”

He concluded, “It’s great when you have a group of guys that are all alike. You never know what you’re going to get.”

NEWSLETTER

Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *
     

COMMENTS

Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today