NDSU’s Griesel Journey Back From Injury Comes Full Circle
After two surgeries, the fourth year guard dropped 25 points in win over Indiana State
FARGO, N.D — In game one of his fourth year with north Dakota state men’s basketball, Sam Griesel never imagined it might be the last he helps.
“Something was off. Something wasn’t right. I felt a little fatigued and tired. I had to catch my breath on the bench. I told our trainer that I wasn’t feeling right and so I sat out the next half. The next day, we checked on my heart and everything looked fine.”
Then the Bison went out west for a three-game road trip and the night before their game with Cal Poly the worst happened.
“I started to get some chills and felt like I was about to throw up. I stood up and tried to get to the bathroom. It gets hazy from then on. I remember putting my head on the ground on one side to try and cool off. Next thing, I’m throwing up blood. A few times and just laying there in shock. That’s the lowest of lows right there. That’s when I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next.”
What happened next was a brother being a brother. Teammate willie guy immediately sprung to action and helped before head coach Dave Richman could make it there.
“Really when I had first heard the vomiting sound. That’s when I first heard something wasn’t ok. I woke up and turn the lights on. Sam was laying flat on his stomach telling me he couldn’t move and that’s when I grabbed my phone.”
“Its one thing when you get a bang on the door and you know something is up and pretty severe. Its a completely other thing we you actually see it and its reality. Something I’ve never witness before. One of if not the scariest night of my life to see someone I love in that situation.”
Griesel was immediately taken to the hospital needing surgery and a blood transfusion to fix a stomach ulcer losing almost half his blood and through all that, the senior could think of only one thing.
“I just kept asking my doctors if I could make it to the game and I didn’t care how many nurses had to be there or what I looked like, I just wanted to be there. I remember waking up and checking twitter seeing that we won and it was good to wake up to.”
“The cold and callous part of it was six hours after addressing the team, there was going to be a game and a result at it. To our guys credit, they were able to compartmentalize things. Sam had a big part in them channeling thier energy in the right direction. There wasn’t anything other than a culture win.”
“It brought me a lot closer to Sam. Going into the game the next day, I was just focusing on the next time I could see him.”
After a second surgery, Griesel missed a total of seven games, however it was the third game back where it all comes full circle. The all-conference player dropped 25 points in a win over Indiana State in a very emotional performance.
“To be able to do that at home in front of a good crowd was an amazing feeling. It’s a night that I’ll never forget just because of the journey it took to get there.”
“Sam is the ultimate server. He’s going to leave no man behind. He’s about making others better. For as much as he’s done for all of us. I think that was our turn to witness him picking us up.”
For the team it helped finish out the non-conference home slate with a perfect 6-0 record heading into Summit League play and for Griesel a new perspective on life going forward.
“I’m so blessed to have the ability to play basketball and do the things I can do in my every day life and I’m never going to take that for granted ever again. What we saw the other night was just a really really special feeling to be out on the floor with the people I love and the people you go through really tough workouts and grind everyday with. Just to feel at home in a sense, I was speechless after.”
Griesel was an intern for the Landon’s Light foundation this past summer. After going through his battle, he wants to continue to be an inspiration for those kids he’s grown relationships with and let them live their dreams through him.