Austin Phyfe overcomes mysterious illness, key piece to UNI's success

Published: Jan. 30, 2020 at 6:21 PM CST
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No player wants to be sitting and watching his or her team from the bench because of an injury or a mysterious illness, which was the case for Northern Iowa's Austin Phyfe last season.

"I've always been blessed with being able to play and be on the court," Phyfe said. "So I've never had to be the guy that sits on the bench. Having that feeling is tough and a lot of my teammates knew that it was not easy what I was going through."

His season was put on hold because he constantly felt lightheaded and would sometimes faint. It started during his summer workouts. He visited the E.R. a few times, but never got any answers. It wasn't until mid-season when doctors at the Mayo Clinic finally found one.

Phyfe was diagnosed with vasovagal syncope. Basically, not enough blood was getting to his heart and head, which would cause him to faint.

"Everything was just kind of going down," he said. "They said it's just a luck of the draw kind of thing."

Doctors put him on medication to combat the symptoms. Now, he's feeling better than ever. He's averaging 10.6 points and 7.5 rebounds per game for the Panthers this season.

For Phyfe, he's just excited he gets to share these special moments with his teammates on the court, instead of on the bench.

"It's just tough to go through things knowing that you're not going to be able to be out there and help your team," he said. "So just knowing that I'm going to have the ability to contribute and being out there with my guys and feeling better is just a great feeling."