Physically you need both eyes to play college basketball, right? Wrong. At least that is what these two players are demonstrating. Eric Katenda of Notre Dame and Chris Otule of Marquette both are pursuing their collegiate dreams with the use of only one eye. Each of these players reached this handicap through different circumstances but neither is less extraordinary.
Katenda, originally from Paris, France, grew up with the use of both eyes and came to the United States when he was 15 years old to try to become a college basketball player, and hopefully a professional afterwards, and four years later accepted a scholarship to Notre Dame. His size, 6-9, and ability to shoot with range made him a perfect fit for Coach Mike Brey’s offensive attacks.
In the summer before what was supposed to be his freshman year at Notre Dame Katenda suffered an injury that will forever alter his physical ability. While watching, yes watching, a pick-up basketball game in Washington D.C. he was inadvertently hit in the eye by a player trying to block a shot. A fluke play, an accident, something that happens countless times during games across the world just happened to hit this promising player in a way that caused him to lose sight in his eye permanently.
On the other hand, Otule was born with the use of only one eye. “The other one was, I guess you could call it glaucoma”, says Otule. “I went into surgery as soon as I was born…the first couple of years I was living with one eye and the other one just looked pink. At the age of 3 or 4 I was old enough for a glass eye.” Overcoming impairment like this shows the mental and physical toughness that Otule has and displays as he has competed at a high level for Coach Buzz Williams at Marquette.
After back to back years of logging 17 minutes a game and contributing 5 points and 4 rebounds a game, the 6-11 275 pound big man will be welcomed back after missing last year. He will be counted on to provide leadership and much needed size on a team with only one other player over 6-7. Because of other injuries sustained during his time at Marquette Otule was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA for this upcoming season.