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Sabrina Goddard, Ozarks basketball

From the ranch to a familiar branch of medicine

By Michelle Hiskey

A motorcycle accident left James Goddard without a muscle in his lower leg, or a future in basketball. As he raised his daughter on their farm in Oklahoma, and taught her to play that sport, he told her, “Seize the moment. You never know when you’re not going to get to play any more.”

Today, Sabrina Goddard’s sense of purpose is fully developed. She plays center and captains the University of the Ozarks, which she attends on a full academic scholarship.  Last year she was an Academic All-American.

“One of the best things about Sabrina is that she does not just do the class and lab work, but also is involved in learning what it is to be a professional,” said Sean T. Coleman, associate professor of biology and chief health professions advisor. “She has done multiple research projects here at Ozarks as well as a summer research fellowship… now that is commitment, on and off the basketball court.

Goddard, a biology major, plans to pursue a career in orthopedic surgery, in a close-knit community like the one she grew up in Stroud, Okla., about an hour from Oklahoma City.

“My high school graduating class ended up with 48 students,” she said. “My elementary school had only five kids in my grade. I’m used to knowing all the people and everyone knowing me.”

Closeness and community are key values for her in life and on the court. As she counts on others, she wants others to count on her.

“That’s something medicine ties into,” she said. “You are not always going to have the answers. You have to go to other people who are skilled. I don’t shoot the 3-pointers; I go to others to do that… the center is the most dependent position on the court, because I have to depend on someone to pass the ball in.

Other close family members shaped her pursuit of becoming a physician. Of her grandfather’s ten siblings, seven died of cancer.

One “died of brain cancer when I was 12, and it was one of those things that was shocking,” she recalled. “He had been a real vibrant person, and to see him in the hospital, a really broken person, made me wish I could have helped him. That feeling of helplessness is the real motivating force for me. … With surgery, I like the fact that you can see more of an instant result. Usually after the surgery, the patient is feeling better.” 

Her success has enabled her immediate family to resolve some unfinished business. Her mother, Martina Goddard, had studied pre-med on a full scholarship before leaving undergraduate work for a bank job. Her father’s lower calf has a muscle missing because of that motorcycle accident.

They’ve pressed their only child to finish what they did not. Now she’s pushing herself for more.

“I’m grateful that they’ve pushed and supported me,” Sabrina Goddard said. “I’ve thought that I might want to do an MD/masters of public health and my dad said, ‘You’ll never get out of school to make money.’ I told him I might – eventually.”