This article features excerpts written by Todd Nadeau '80.
Isn’t it funny how the trajectory of your life can change within the blink of an eye?
In a fleeting moment, you revel in the carefree days of youth, brimming with vitality and ambitious dreams. Suddenly, you find yourself grappling with unforeseen challenges and navigating through the complexities of life.
That’s exactly what happened to Todd Nadeau.
Throughout his entire childhood, Todd lived and breathed for playing basketball. The 1980 Catholic Central High School graduate even had dreams of playing D1 basketball in college.
He was on the right track, too - up until the summer before his senior year when he severed his right hand at the wrist with a saw while working a summer job.
His dreams of playing D1 basketball vanished.
Todd was rushed to Harper Hospital where a team of five surgeons spent 13 hours reattaching his hand. At the time, it was only the second such operation in Michigan medical history.
Todd’s was the first successful reattachment operation in the country. He had five other operations after that - spanning 25 hours – to keep his hand alive.
After spending five months in the hospital, he was released to resume his senior year and reunite with his teammates on the court, this time with a different goal in mind - to support his team in any way possible.
“As I reunited with my teammates, I was glad to be back on the basketball court cheering them on. This was home to me. I quickly started thinking of ways I could contribute. Since I could only use my left hand, I thought – free throws. After practicing for a while, I was making 30 in a row, then 40, 50, 80. My coach was impressed and said that if we received a technical foul, I could check into the game and shoot the free throws,” Todd stated.
His opportunity came when Catholic Central played Brother Rice at Calahan Hall. As fate would have it, Brother Rice’s coach received a technical foul. All eyes turned to Todd.
As he walked up to check into the game, he received a standing ovation. It was the moment he had been waiting for.
Unfortunately, Brother Rice’s head coach threatened to petition a forfeit if Todd shot the free throws.
As he did not want to risk a forfeit, Todd stepped down so his teammate could shoot (and make) both free throws. The team was fired up and went on to crush Brother Rice 79-18.
Although he didn’t get to experience the game the same way he used to, Todd was thrilled to be back on the court and inspired to continue to find ways to help.
“Just getting the opportunity to be back on the court inspired me. As I started playing again, I realized the challenges of playing with one hand. I also recognized the need to enhance the mental side of the game. Consequently, I realized the importance of the mind. I needed to mentally process the game at a high level. I learned to be a few steps ahead of my opponent. This led me to become a sports psychologist. In the end, I never obtained that D-1 scholarship, although I was able to play D-3 at Albion College,” Todd recalled.
Where Is He Now?
Todd went on to become the President of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Albion where he worked with juvenile offenders at Starr Commonwealth, using his story to inspire and connect with young adults struggling to find their way.
“By using my story and what I learned about overcoming tragedy and obstacles in your life, I teach that it is not what happens to you that matters. At times, these are events we do not have control over. What does matter is how you choose to respond,” he stated.
Todd attended a pre-med program and eventually earned a Master's degree in Psychology. He has been in practice for 30 years and focuses on helping others overcome difficult times and events in their life. He also helps athletes learn how to master the mental aspects of sports.
Todd currently works at Performance Psychology PLLC in Novi, Michigan, where he specializes in designing and implementing performance-based psychological treatments to enhance cognitive performance (IQ) in the areas of sports, academics, and concussions or brain injuries.
“My body of work over the past 30 plus years has allowed me to create an effective treatment program that is driven by results. I am blessed to have helped students, athletes, and families achieve their best. I specialize in treating ADD/ADHD, anxiety, depression, and learning disorders using a Performance Treatment Model (PMT),” Todd stated.
Todd's story serves as a testament to the belief that our responses to life's challenges define us more than the challenges themselves. His choice to leverage his experiences, turning them into a source of motivation and guidance, exemplifies the potential within us all.
The abrupt change brought about by that summer accident wasn't an end but a catalyst for a remarkable new beginning. It shows that life's unpredictable events can lead to unforeseen opportunities, and it's in our responses to these moments that our true character is revealed.