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After struggling with depression and injuries, Tamara Farquhar found a home in East Lansing

February 28, 2022
<p>Graduate student forward Tamara Farquhar (2) takes on a defender. The Spartans lost 61-55 against Ohio State University at the Breslin Center on Feb. 27, 2022.</p>

Graduate student forward Tamara Farquhar (2) takes on a defender. The Spartans lost 61-55 against Ohio State University at the Breslin Center on Feb. 27, 2022.

She didn't think anyone would want her after four years.

That is, until she met MSU women's basketball head coach Suzy Merchant.

Graduate student forward Tamara Farquhar spent her undergraduate career as a forward at Purdue, battling a depressive cloud that came in pair with her multitude of different injuries: subluxated shoulders, two torn ACLs and a torn meniscus are just a few she named. The list is longer than you'd expect for someone who's still taking the court and putting on record-setting performances like she has been this season.

It's been a rollercoaster,” Farquhar shared after MSU's 61-55 Senior Day loss to Ohio State yesterday. “I wasn't expecting any other coach or team to basically want someone that was like, damaged goods. The fact that I got an opportunity, I didn't care what I was doing, ... how hurt I was, I wanted to give it my all for a whole season and I think I was able to do that. I'm really proud of myself and this is the best way I can go out with my basketball career.”

The graduate forward recorded her second double-double of the season and of her career in the green and white yesterday with 10 points and 22 rebounds. Her attack on the glass proved shocking to no one, especially Merchant, after the grit and stamina she's displayed since day one. But, it did tie her for third highest all-time rebounding in a single game at Michigan State.

She joked after the game that she and senior guard Nia Clouden had made a bet going into the afternoon. Clouden was expecting Farquhar to get 10 and 12 on offensive and defensive boards, and she did just that, which means Clouden owes her a meal, anything of her choosing. Farquhar said she's going to put her to work, as friends do.

It's surreal,” she added.

It's funny if you think about how close the two are now because Farquhar said she was so nervous to come to MSU, as she's a very reserved person at the first meeting. But, after a week or two, they had cracked her shell and, “couldn't get me to shut up,” she shared with a chuckle. Among individuals and on the court, she did her best to keep everything simple, down to the pieces she knew and was comfortable with no matter what. She wasn't here to impress others, just to be the best version of herself she could be and make her teammates better. From there, it only blossomed.

She put her name in the transfer portal just to see what she could make of it. She wasn't expecting much and was just expecting to continue academics, but about a month after her senior season with the Boilermakers had ended, Merchant had reached out.

While her time with the Spartan family was shorter than the average player, as she transferred in on a fifth year of eligibility after the 2020-21 season, she said it's been everything, if not more, than she imagined. Her expectations have only been exceeded. She was speechless but extremely grateful to have had the chance to be around this group of women.

“It made me fall in love with basketball all over again,” she said.

Farquhar has always had the mentality that she needs to keep pushing and leak in the cracks as best she can because she feels like she's always been undersized by not being a guard or a post. It's been a battle for her to find her place in the game, but after she tore both of her ACLs, it truly began to sink in.

“There's been days I couldn't walk, legit could not walk, did not know how to walk, because I had just come out of surgery,” Farquhar said. “So, thinking of those moments, if I get hit and I'm hurting and I can limp, I can limp enough to be able to walk, I can walk, I can run. I don't care how hurt I am, I'm always going to give 100%.”

“She's just all effort and absolute toughness,” Merchant said. “She's been asked to do things she didn't anticipate having to do. I mean, first of all, she has to play a guard, then she's playing the four, sometimes I played her at the five. I anticipated her to be our defensive stopper, rebounder and maybe like a half the game kind of kid and she's had to come in here and log more minutes and do more things for this team than a lot of kids on this roster. I feel bad, I know she's hurting. Her body's been beat up (after) four years of college basketball.”

“I love watching her,” Merchant continued. “You really appreciate as a coach, and I'm sure as a fan, just all the effort. Everything she does is effort-based. Rebounds are a loose ball, a who wants it most, and on offense and defense she's been spectacular for us.”

Farquhar had thoughts about hanging up her jersey after everything she'd been through.

And she's sure glad she didn't.

I've wanted to quit and it's sad to say that out loud,” she said. “I really did not think I was going to play this year, so the fact that I'm playing this season is crazy to me. Even before my senior year at Purdue I really was like, there was a lot of times that I've wanted to quit basketball, especially when I tore my ACL my junior year. ... I was depressed for a really long time and I don't have any shame in saying that because I know there's a lot of other athletes that have gone through injuries and had a hard time getting themselves out of that.

”I feel like I'm proof that you can come back and be better than you ever were if you want it,” she continued. “If you put the heart, the ethic, the work, you're going to get whatever you want out of this experience. I'm just really grateful that I didn't give up on myself and that the people around me didn't give up on me either.”

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