The student newspaper of Nicholls State University

Emani White fights past obstacles throughout her career

January 26, 2017

Nicholls’ women’s basketball guard, Emani White plays a key role for the Colonels, but has endured her share of obstacles.

Just before her freshman year at Nicholls, White noticed unusual red blotches on her hand and rashes under her eyes. After seeking help from a dermatologist, she was diagnosed with Lupus, an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. It has no cure, but treatment can help keep it at bay.

“The word just scares me; it’s something nobody wants to hear,” White said. “Still now, I’m taking about six medications per day.”

After being put on steroid medications, White battled through Lupus’ deadly side effects, which included blurred vision and fatigue. What she didn’t know, however, was what the long-term effects of the medication would do to her body.

Roughly two years after her diagnosis, and after playing two full seasons in a Nicholls uniform, another issue arose for White. The steroid medication she had previously taken caused her left hip to deteriorate. White’s hip required surgery for Avascular Necrosis, sidelining her for the rest of her junior season after just two games. Her diagnosis was considered a health problem and not a physical injury, so she was not allowed to work out.

“Some days were harder than others mentally, but it’s really hard when you actually feel it physically,” White said. “I felt really tight, and lost a lot of flexibility.”

White had to make changes to the way she played to make up for lacking mobility. She realized she had to play lower to the ground and wasn’t as quick as she once was, but she maintained an advantage on the floor with her high basketball IQ.

“I think I play like a coach on the floor,” White said. “I can still do other little things to help the team win.”

After her surgery, White was advised by her doctors not to play basketball again. The doctors did not think White’s body could handle playing such a physically demanding sport anymore, and predicted she would need a major hip replacement surgery within the next couple of years.

“To them, I’m defeating the purpose of trying to fix it (by playing),” White said. “But I’m an athlete and I wanted to keep playing.”

Nicholls Head Coach DoBee Plaisance, who has coached White through her years at Nicholls, reflects on what she brings to the table.

“She’s an uncanny unselfish person, and everything with her is always about the team,” Plaisance said. “She sees the game well and makes a great mentor.”

Plaisance went quite a while without seeing White on the floor. After approximately a year and a half after her surgery, White finally became healthy enough to see the floor, sparking an emotional response from her coach.

“I got teared up because it was so motivational and inspiring,” Plaisance said. “Emani just always gets the job done.”

Despite all the rough news, White has continued to start for the Colonels and has lead by being a great example for the youth on the team.

“We have a lot of young girls and I just want to teach them mentally and physically,” White said. “I don’t make excuses and I want them to see that, so they don’t take playing for granted.”

Growing up, White had always envisioned playing in the Women’s National Basketball Association or overseas professionally, but now she thinks her time as a player might be winding down.

Down the line, White might consider coaching or staying involved with the game in some capacity, but right now, she is focused on finishing her senior season on a high note. It is her love for the game that keeps her playing despite her challenges, and it is her drive to win that keeps her chasing a championship.

“(Basketball) is something I love and something I’ve played my whole life,” White said. “I just really need closure this year.”

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