As the explanation for why he’d begun having bouts of dizziness and light-headedness settled in, Aidan Dring couldn’t help but think about what was at stake.
Dring, who had just started his senior year at Dublin Coffman, wondered if his final prep basketball season might be in jeopardy after he’d been diagnosed with a brain tumor that would result in surgery and several weeks of radiation treatments.
“The first thing I was worried about when they told me was would I be able to play my senior season,” he said. “I’ve been playing since I was a little kid and my senior season is so important, being out there with my guys.
“There was a lot of shock at first, but I’ve got a great support system and everyone telling me I’d be fine. The doctors are great and everything went smoothly.”
There have been anxious moments and physical difficulties along the way, but Dring has played a key role in a strong start by the Shamrocks.
Dring, a 6-foot-1 guard who is one of four seniors in the program along with guards Ryan Lynn and Ajay Sheldon and forward Mason Maggs, has provided as much from an inspirational standpoint as he has with his basketball abilities throughout the season.
“It’s been pretty special having him back for (our) senior season,” Maggs said. “Aidan has been my best friend since we were little and (the senior class has) been playing together since seventh grade. He’s just shown resilience. Not everybody experiences something like that and he’s persevered through all of it and it’s been awesome.”
Dring, who averaged 8.1 points and was second-team all-OCC-Central Division and honorable mention all-district last season, got checked out in early September.
That’s when an MRI showed an ependymoma tumor near his brain stem. It’s likely that the tumor had been growing slowly for several years.
Dring spent nine days in the hospital but was released just three days after a nine-hour surgery in which the tumor was removed.
On Sept. 6, students from both Dublin Jerome and Coffman painted a rock outside of the Coffman football stadium with “#23” and the words “together” and “Aidan” prior to a football matchup between the programs four days later.
Dring’s brother, Tyler, is a 2020 Jerome graduate and former soccer player and their sister, Liv, is a junior cheerleader at Coffman.
Aidan attended Karrer Middle School, where he built relationships with students who now attend both Coffman and Jerome.
“Watching the entire community rally around Aidan, from Coffman and Jerome both painting the rock together just days before the huge rivalry game and Jerome posting a sign for Aidan in their front window to players and students from both sides honoring him during the game ... (it) seemed like the perfect alignment of things that resulted in an absolutely beautiful tribute to Aidan,” said his mother, Jenn Dring. “It is what truly got him through his darkest days.”
Aidan endured 33 days of radiation treatment beginning in October and was cleared for basketball activities in mid-November.
The surgery left a scar on the back of his neck, where he also lost a small bit of hair.
Coffman was 3-1 in the OCC-Central after beating Upper Arlington 57-52 on Jan. 7 and 6-4 overall after losing 45-38 to Reynoldsburg on Jan. 11.
Dring scored 10 points in a 60-45 victory over Northland on Dec. 21 but has at times battled fatigue. He also has been sidelined with a cold, including against UA and the next night when Coffman lost 76-71 to Africentric.
Dring averaged 4.2 points through his first five games while providing ball-handling and defensive skills for an offense led by Sheldon, an Ohio University signee who scored 38 against UA and averages 26.5 points.
Coach Jamey Collins gets “really emotional” when he thinks about his program getting one final season with Dring after what Dring has gone through the past few months.
“(Dring is) physically going to keep getting stronger,” Collins said. “He just gets really tired really fast, but he’s earned the right to keep going back in there and competing. I can’t imagine a family handling it any better than they have. It’s really, really hard, but they’ve accepted that.
“I get tears in my eyes just thinking about it now. For these guys, too, a couple of these guys are his best friends and they spend a lot of time together. He means the world to me and this program. He’s about as good as it gets for Dublin Coffman basketball. He was getting so good at basketball and he’s going to get that back.”
Dring is excited about his team, and he’s appreciative of the support he has received.
“We’ve got a lot of potential and great pieces,” he said. “It’s frustrating because I’ve never dealt with anything like this. I was out of school for about five weeks, but I’ve been back since October. They have that rock out by the football stadium that they painted (for me and everyone has) been so supportive.”
This article originally appeared on ThisWeek: Boys Basketball: Dring’s cancer battle inspires Coffman teammates