‘No’ is Not an Option for Wachtman
By: Ryan Gasser, Capital University sports information director
Woah, Elli! You simply cannot slow down Capital University senior Elli Wachtman from accomplishing her goals. After what appeared to be a series of injuries to end her basketball career, Elli needed just one “yes” (or a “not no”) to continue playing the game she loves at a place she loves.
Wachtman, who is a fifth-generation Capital University student, has quite literally had a bulk of her life built in and around CU. She wore purple and white as a child, grew up going to Capital women’s basketball games, and heard stories from both sides of her family that have a long history of attending the University dating back to 1909. It only made sense for the Upper Arlington, Ohio native to not only follow in her parents’ and grandparents’ footsteps but also her older sister, Annika, who played under Head Coach Dixie Jeffers from 2014-17.
Elli came out and earned Ohio Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year honors in 2017 despite missing the last quarter of the season due to lingering leg injuries diagnosed as multiple stress fractures. Those same injuries are what also kept her out of the lineup during her sophomore and junior seasons. While going through physical therapy and being told repeatedly that her playing days were over Elli continued to push through, seeking hope and a doctor to grant it.
Despite the recurring setbacks, Elli continued her physical therapy while excelling elsewhere on campus. She continued to perform strongly in the classroom and was selected as one of 15 charter members of Capital University’s Bonner Leader Program, a multi-year curriculum program placed in local nonprofit organizations designed to provide meaningful opportunities to prepare students for fulfilling careers and lives of impact. While some suggested to hang up the sneakers and focus on her academics, Elli chose the route of a true Division III student-athlete: pursue both.
With rods and pain still in her legs and doctors strongly recommending “retirement”, Elli finally found one doctor that agreed to help her chase a return to the court. With the same determination placed on being a success in the classroom, Elli worked toward returning for her senior season and on November 12, she reemerged.
Not only did Elli resurface but she made a clear and instant impact. In the season and home opener against Denison University, she dropped 20 points, collected eight rebounds, one steal, and one block in 20 minutes off the bench. Despite Capital taking a loss, it set the tone that Elli was back for good.
“Putting that jersey back on was a very emotional moment, just to represent the school, the tradition, and my family,” said Wachtman. “And to know that I had fought to get it all back, it was redeeming. I mean, it made it feel worth it, the battle. To me, that was the sweetest victory of all.”
On December 14, she earned her first start in more than two years in a key OAC contest versus Ohio Northern and tallied a double-double behind 11 points and 14 rebounds as part of a win. She is well on pace to surpass the totals that granted her such high praise as a freshman, but more importantly she has proved to herself and the rest of the CapFam that only one person can hold you back from accomplishing your goals; yourself.