Back on his feet
|Joel Neri followed his math
teacher to SUNY-Purchase. How often have you read
SUNY-Purchase photo by Imani Humphries
Before head coach Jeff Charney taught Joel Neri the X’s and O’s of SUNY-Purchase basketball, he taught him how to solve for X.
Neri, a sophomore at Purchase, attended Port Chester High School and had Mr. Charney as his math teacher for his junior and senior year.
Naturally, when Charney saw a 7-1 male with a willingness to learn, he talked his ear off.
Despite his height, Neri was not heavily recruited out of high school. Partly because Neri broke his wrist during his senior season, and partly because his team didn’t feed him enough down low.
So, with no Division I options, Neri decided to sign up for four more years of Charney’s tutelage, and attend Purchase, just a few blocks away from Port Chester. In addition to basketball, one of the main factors was Purchase’s new media major.
But that October, two months into classes and just before his freshman season, doctors detected a tumor on Neri’s optic nerve.
“Eventually it would have popped, and I could have gone blind,” Neri said. The tumor had to be removed as soon as possible. Neri didn’t know if he would play basketball again.
It was a bad break, but in a sense, Neri was blessed.
Since he was in junior high, Neri was aware of a small tumor located in his left ear. This tumor was benign, and did not warrant surgery. However, Neri went to the doctors regularly to check it out, and make sure it was not growing in size.
That tumor had always affected Neri’s hearing. He is half deaf in his left ear. But before that October checkup he was experiencing severe headaches. He didn’t know why.
While reviewing Neri’s regularly scheduled CAT scan, the doctors found the second tumor, the cause for the auras he had been experiencing.
“I was upset but I knew that it was going to be fine. I didn’t think it was the end of the world, but I just more upset that I couldn’t play basketball,” Neri said.
Neri spent the next two weeks in the hospital, recuperating from the surgery in which both tumors were removed.
“We went down with the coaches, his mother was there, Joel was in bed,” associate head coach Chad Charney said. “Joel was in good spirits. His first question when we saw him was ‘how is the team looking?' It...