By Alicia Couch Payne
Meet Buford High School senior, Preston Reid. Preston is an exceptional young lady, according to basketball coach Gene Durden. She was a two-sport athlete during her junior year, competing in both basketball and track, and now plays basketball during her senior year.
Preston started playing basketball in 3rd-grade, under Coach Sandra Ozment in the Buford Rec League. As a 3rd grader, she made up her mind to work hard so she could attend college on an athletic scholarship. Preston was well on her way to achieving that goal until receiving medical news that no one would ever want to hear. This bad news came the day before she was to compete in the track and field state championship meet in May of last year.
Doctors informed Preston there was something wrong with her heart and she could not compete in the state meet. Preston had numerous trips to doctors and underwent test after test. She even spent time at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota trying to get answers. Doctors concluded she had exercise-induced hypertension; meaning her blood pressure spikes during exercise to levels higher than that of an average person.
Shortly after that, with advice from doctors and great caution, she proceeded to join her teammates in preseason workouts. A week into preseason workouts, she received the news that would ultimately change her life forever. Preston was diagnosed with a genetic disorder called Loeys-Dietz Syndrome. LDS can affect a person’s heart, nerves, and numerous other bodily functions, but according to her doctors, Preston’s most significant risk was that of an aneurysm. Her doctors said that if she were to be hit by a basketball, it could potentially cause an aneurysm to burst, killing her instantly.
With this news, Preston knew she would not be able to attain the future she had mapped out since the 3rd-grade.
Preston decided that she wanted to be around to support her teammates, and around basketball safely, so she accepted a team manager position.
The season was underway when she received a bit of good news about her health condition. Preston was told she had a less severe form of LDS which lessens the chances of an aneurysm. The risk is still there, but doctors told her parents that she could play basketball at her own risk. Preston says she was thrilled to tell her teammates that she could play again!
Preston’s love for her teammates is what made the risky decision to play again worth taking. Her mom and the coaching staff are constantly monitoring her condition, and she is forced to only to play a few minutes at a time before resting for a few minutes and then returning to the game. She tires easily and cannot play every game, but that is fine with her compared to the alternative of not playing at all.
Despite all of this, Preston refused to be coddled and insists that she is treated the same as any other player. She laughingly said that Coach Durden was told he must still yell at her or she would feel like something was wrong.
Turning serious, Preston praises Coach Durden, his staff, and the Buford community, and says that in any other school, she wouldn’t be playing at all. The amount of medical supervision she requires would allow other schools to refuse to let her participate. She says she owes a lot to Durden, his staff, her teammates, and her family for making her senior year one that includes playing basketball.
One might think Preston was insane for risking her life to play basketball. She says that her hopes of an athletic scholarship are not possible, but, without hesitation, that her teammates are the reason she now plays. She wants to be there for them, to share the moments, and help lead the team. Coach Durden says “P,” as he calls her, is without a doubt one of his team leaders and her leadership is invaluable to the success of the team.
Preston’s future does include more doctors in hopes of more answers about her condition. And while her future is not going to play out how she had initially hoped, other doors have already opened for her. She has accepted a summer internship in Kansas City working for Dell Technologies, and in the fall, she will attend the University of Oklahoma, where she has received a scholarship to work in the football office under the head of recruiting, Annie Hanson.
Preston’s attitude and hard-work embody everything you could want in a Buford Wolf. She excels in academics and athletics, is a kind and caring person, and is also a natural leader. She refuses to let a medical condition determine her path but instead has chosen to adapt and overcome. Her sheer grit and determination are seen on and off the court, as she is a role model and a true Wolf.