UW Women's Hoops | Washington's Christina Rozier is playing for teammate Lydia Young, whose career is finished
Young's knee injury has ended her career prematurely.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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As if Washington guard Christina Rozier didn't have enough to play for this season, she was given one more reason. So, with a stroke of a marker she'll mark "LY" on the inside of her right wrist and on both sneakers for teammate Lydia Young.
Young was told by doctors that she'd never play basketball again, suffering from severe right knee injury that requires career-ending surgery. She'll remain part of the team, but on the bench Sunday as Washington (1-1) faces Gonzaga (2-1) in a matchup at McCarthey Athletic Center.
Rozier was one of the first teammates Young notified of the news. Young had a consultation with doctors following an exhibition victory, breaking down in tears in the locker room.
A native of Detroit, Mich., basketball has been part of Young's life since she was a baby in the crib. She'd babble, "Do the Dumars" after former Pistons great Joe Dumars, then put a spongy ball through a mini net, bringing a smile to her watchful grandfather.
"I thought somebody died in her family," Rozier said of seeing Young cry. "She was like, 'This is it for me. Basketball. They say I'll never be able to play again.' I just paused for a long time. I didn't even know what to say to her. I couldn't say anything for a long time."
Rozier and Young are like sisters. The duo starred at Southeastern Illinois Community College, helping the program win a fifth consecutive regional title before transferring to Washington.
Young, a 5-foot-11 forward, selected the Huskies because she believed it was a program on the rise. But, hampered by the tendinitis, she averaged 2.5 points and 2.9 rebounds during Washington's 8-22 season a year ago.
Rozier, a 5-7 guard, and Young watched in the stands as Gonzaga defeated Xavier in the opening round of the NCAA tournament at Edmundson Pavilion. And as the Bulldogs put a scare into higher-seeded Pitt, they talked to each other about how they were going to return just as competitive.
Now, Young is regretting all those losses.
"I try to remind everybody ... don't take it for granted," Young said of her changed role this season. "I'll be the first one to tell them if they're tired, get over it. What if you can't do it anymore? Get them to realize this is serious and appreciate what you have."
Washington coach Tia Jackson said she's noticed the team more animated in practice recently. But the players were already determined to redefine themselves after last season, which included a 64-59 season-opening loss to the Zags.
Gonzaga is stronger this season with Washington transfer Katelan Redmon, a 6-1 forward, eligible. Senior forward Heather Bowman had successful offseason shoulder surgery and former Kentwood star Courtney Vandersloot added a perimeter shooting game to the skill set that's getting national recognition.
"There's more to life than basketball," said Rozier. "Regardless, one day we're all going to have to stop. So, I'm just trying to keep Lydia's head up and encourage her.
"I'm doing this for her to let her know that I do appreciate her and I am here for her."
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or email@example.com
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