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Chris Kading battled through setbacks to finish career with North Dakota State men's basketball team

FARGO -- The post-college phase of Chris Kading's life has already been in motion for a while now, a path that had success written on it since the day he came to North Dakota State. His real job internship last summer at the YMCA of Cass and Clay...

FARGO - The post-college phase of Chris Kading’s life has already been in motion for a while now, a path that had success written on it since the day he came to North Dakota State. His real job internship last summer at the YMCA of Cass and Clay Counties had him working with elementary-aged kids on a daily basis.
He’s engaged to be married in May to Ashley Daanen and his impressive academic credentials got him into the physical therapy graduate program at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, which he’ll start next fall. So, considering all the injuries that have plagued him the last couple of years, the question was this: Why come back?
Why try to struggle through another year of North Dakota State basketball?
“A chance to go to the tournament one more time,” Kading said. “That’s the goal every year, and I’ve had so much fun playing with these guys that I wanted to help out in anyway I could.”
The chance for three straight trips to the NCAA tournament begins Sunday for the Bison when they play Indiana Purdue-Indianapolis in the first round of the Summit League tournament in Sioux Falls, S.D. It appears to be a tough road - the Bison are the fifth seed and if they are to make March Madness, they will have to win three games in three days.
Kading is one of two seniors along with Kory Brown, who will be in their last go-around.
“He’s a tough-minded guy,” Brown said of Kading.
Tough-minded because the biggest obstacle this year for Kading was trying to regain his mobility. He had surgeries to both hips, the first in April and the second in July. He’s had two surgeries in his career to his right shoulder, the second coming over the summer.
The fact he came back from three surgeries in such a short time alone probably makes him qualified for physical therapy school. That’s not the norm.
“It’s very difficult for anybody, let alone an athlete, trying to get back on the floor,” said Scott Woken, NDSU’s director of sports medicine. “But there was no other option for him to get back on the floor. The option was to play with less pain, and he had to have the surgeries.”
They also had to be planned in accordance with rehabilitation. For instance, he couldn’t have his shoulder in a sling after a hip surgery because he needed the use of crutches. But he got through it and only missed the first two games this season.
“I see a very focused individual because he was successful in three rehabilitations,” Woken said. “He had to hurry up through one rehab to get to the next surgery.”
The injuries certainly cut into his production. His statistics haven’t changed much over the years and just looking at those doesn’t do his career justice. He averaged 4.4 points and 3.4 rebounds as a freshman, 2.7 points and 2.6 rebounds as a sophomore, 5.3 points and 3.9 rebounds as a junior and 3.0 points and 3.3 rebounds this year.
“They could have been better the last couple of years if I had been healthier,” he said.
Perhaps the highlight was two years ago when he played extended minutes in the NCAA second round win over Oklahoma. With starter TrayVonn Wright in foul trouble, he hit his only field goal, had five rebounds, two blocked shots and a steal in the upset victory.
His 126 games played are the fifth-most in school history. He has 106 career blocked shots that ranks him fourth on the school career chart.
“I pride myself on things that are not statistical,” Kading said. “Especially defensively and things of that nature, so I’m happy with the way my career turned out. One of the biggest things is leadership because our team is so young. If it’s leading by example or giving a positive word, I try to help out in that way.”
Off the court, he’s knocked it out of the park. He’s a member of the NDSU chapter of Blue Key Honor Society, is a two-time Summit League Academic All-League and was nominated for the Allstate Good Works Team that recognizes campus involvement and community service.
And then there’s that beard. It’s noticeable to Bison fans from the top row of Scheels Arena. It started over the summer because he couldn’t shave due to the shoulder surgery. Jason Miller of the NDSU strength and conditioning staff who works with the basketball team egged Kading on further.
“I’ve maybe seen a bigger beard,” Brown said with a laugh, “but I haven’t seen one as nice as his.”

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