It turns out that the reported “flu-like symptoms” of Shock players Temeka Johnson and Kayla Pedersen were actually staph infections. Both women were diagnosed in August, and Pedersen was especially hard-hit, missing seven consecutive games.
There’s no getting around it: This is a tough subject for the Shock — and the WNBA — because the franchise has dealt with staph infections each of the three years it has been in Tulsa.
In June 2010, former Tulsa World beat writer Lynn Jacobsen first reported about four Shock players who’d been diagnosed with staph infection: Amber Holt, Chante Black, Marion Jones and Shanna Zolman. Holt and Black are still with the Shock; Jones and Zolman — the only one of them to miss multiple games (four) because of it — are no longer in the WNBA.
Last season, Shock guard Ivory Latta was sidelined with a staph infection as well; she is Tulsa’s leading scorer this year.
Those five cases were more matter-of-factly acknowledged by the Shock. But Tulsa was vague in listing what sidelined Pedersen and Johnson, using terms such as “flu-like symptoms” and “abdominal/ankle injury.” Although, technically, Pedersen’s symptoms were “flu-like.”
Why didn’t the franchise acknowledge what the problem was in the first place?
Compounding things for the Shock is that Tulsa is still in the process of establishing itself in the WNBA. The Shock ownership is committed for the long haul, and wants players to think of Tulsa as someplace they really want to play. But the team has had to deal with some negative perceptions of the city and franchise. The staph infections have compounded that to degree.
“You know how it is — perception becomes reality,” Johnson said. “I heard about it before I got to Tulsa. Players on other teams will say, ‘Don’t shower there,’ and they wonder if there’s something wrong with the building. Whether it’s fair or not, it’s a stigma that Tulsa has to fight off.”
What a situation.