In his junior year at Springfield College, current graduate student Josh Altman tore his ACL and both of his meniscuses before the 2013-14 Springfield men’s basketball team’s first preseason scrimmage.
As Altman went chasing for a loose ball, he attempted to block a shot moments after. Once he came down, he landed awkwardly on his leg.
With severe injuries such as ACL tears, some players who are affected never end up the same. However, there are a select few that come back better than ever, such as NBA players Jamal Crawford and Kyle Lowry.
Like Crawford and Lowry, it was a silver lining for Altman and his basketball career.
“I think the true nature of what Josh came through that year in the rehabbing [process], and then coming back from a horrific injury like that; and being able to play the following year, that’s a really good measure of his character. There’s nobody pushing you, it’s all on you,” head coach Charlie Brock said.
The following season, Altman returned from his injury, and scored 11.7 points per game (PPG), which totaled up to 327 points on the year. This left him with 646 total career points going into his final ride with the Pride.
“I really developed a nice relationship with the athletic trainers here, [and] I really learned about the body,” Altman said. “I learned how to properly stretch, care for and strengthen it. Which, I did before, but I hadn’t been taken very seriously. Once I did that, I found ways to improve and get better.”
With 646 career points, Altman set himself up to be in a very solid position. The number “one thousand” was looming in the back of his head, but for his teammates, they wouldn’t stop talking about it.
As Altman entered the 2015-16 season just 354 points away from one of the most honorable career milestones a player can cherish, he realized what was at stake and what his legacy could mean to the basketball program.
“I didn’t want to think about it, [because] I didn’t want to jinx it,” Altman said. “It’s been so many seasons and so many different experiences playing as a role player off the bench, playing backup for great players such as Alex Berthiaume and others who have come here before, to [now] finding my own role transitioning as a starter and scorer for the team.”
Scoring 1,000 points would mark Altman down as the 30th player in school history to ever reach that milestone, putting his name in elite company with other great players; such as Derek Yvon, Hassan Robinson, Michael Parker, Berthiaume and Sean Martin.
On Saturday, Feb. 13, the Pride faced Emerson College for the second time on the year on their home court in Blake Arena. Altman, who knew he was close, needed 14 points to hit the mark.
With 14.4 seconds left on the clock, Altman chucked up a three and was fouled on the play, sending him to the line with an attempt for three free throws. Sitting at 999 career points, he missed the first shot. He netted the second attempt easily, and the quiet celebrations began.
Although the Pride lost the game, it was an amazing achievement for Altman.
“I don’t really know how to sum it up into words how it all happened, but you know, it’s a tribute to the coaches for having confidence in me for all those four years and putting me in,” Altman said. “Also to my teammates for setting screens, sharing the ball and helping me achieve that goal, because I couldn’t do it by myself, that’s for sure.”
As amazing as this achievement is for Altman, his experience here at Springfield College and the basketball program was more than just personal accolades. The game of basketball is where he made relationships that will last a lifetime.
“This program has done everything for me. I mean, from the three times we’ve made it to the NCAA tournament, which is so rare for every team, to going to Japan, Virginia, and all over the place. These experiences have given me such a great connection with people,” Altman said. “It’s definitely given me way more than I could give back.”
In each of his three appearances in the NCAA Division III Tournament, Altman was there with his teammates Josh Downes, Alex Garstka, Quinn McKenna and Larry Piretra. They’ve gone through everything together.
“We have formed a bond that started on the court my freshman year and it has led to a great friendship off the court that I know will last a long time,” Piretra said. “I’m definitely going to miss playing with them a lot. We basically spent the last four years together on the court, so I’m going to miss that.”
Piretra, a senior on the team and captain alongside Altman, brought something to different to the table than Altman. Piretra, Downes and Altman each had a different play style, which complimented each other.
Sometimes with sports, it’s not so much about the game that makes it so great; it is the people you’re involved with. For Altman, or “Jibs,” as his teammates call him, his legacy, his teammates and coach Brock, have bonded together. They have relied on one another, and have shared amazing memories.
“I do care about him a lot. We need all of our guys when they’re out and about, to be looking out for us with reference to future players. We need to make sure that they’re good people, because we don’t want anybody that isn’t,” Brock said. “[Altman is] one of 30 in the club, and we’ve been doing this since 1892. He’s graduating after four years with a couple of degrees and [will go down as] one of the best players to ever play here.”