Wife and I are just trying to learn the freshman ropes and excited too see what playing time and contributions son can make to help his team this spring. They say "adversity doesn't build character but reveals it" and his path to get to this point has been filled with one roadblock after another. I'm not sure how I would've handled it but he has with the heart and desire of a true champion.
Between his freshman and sophomore year of high school he experienced elbow pain during summer ball. His forearm would tighten and his bicep would contract. After 6 months of doctor visits, MRI, nerve tests and rehabs, it was diagnosed as a pinched nerve in his shoulder. At one point we thought we were headed for Thorasic Outlet surgery. Thankfully we live near one of the best in the country for this and he said surgery was unwarranted. He pitched pain free and with a loose arm his sophomore year and through district play of his junior year. In the third round of the playoffs, in the 6th inning of the game, after a fastball on a 1-1 count, he toed the rubber but looked uncomfortable. I saw him twitch his arm slightly and knew immediately it was his elbow. As many on here know, it's the sickest feeling a parent can have. He signaled for the pitching coach but the coach just thought he wanted another pitched called. When he realized the coach didn't understand, he started to walk off the mound and collapsed in pain. He didn't rupture his ligament, he tore it completely off the bone. This was in middle May of '14. He had surgery in June of '14 to repair and we opted to do reconstructive surgery at the same time. Yes, he now has 2 ligaments in his arm. The doctor said his original was surprisingly healthy with little scar tissue and had pulled cleanly off the bone. Hindsight, his arm had tightened up in the first round of the playoffs (shoulder nerve again) and he didn't tell anyone about it. He learned an unfortunate lesson that the pronator muscles are important to provide support and stability to the elbow and...... communicate.
Now he had 14 offers from D1 schools, 12 from power 5 conferences. He had committed to a high academic P5 school although there was one school that had really caught his attention that I thought he would never consider. He really loved the coaching staff and especially the pitching coach but thought the opportunity to play baseball and get an education from the high academic trumped that.
A month to the day after his arm surgery, he had an emergency appendectomy. Two weeks before signing day, the school pulled his offer. Third punch in the gut. After the other schools found out about this, most contacted him to see if he was still interested? Only the one school he loved didn't. We found back channels to let them know he was available and they called him to gauge his interest. They still wanted him and everything worked out, hurrah!
After finishing his rehab in mid October, he started his throwing portion at the end of October. Because the original ligament was still healthy and reattached, it was thought he might be able to return mid season of his senior year. His throwing portion started uneventful, in fact, it was quite amazing. In April of '15, he was suppose to start ramping up his bullpens and the ball was jumping out of his hand. Unfortunately, he kept complaining about a tugging in his elbow. He kept asking, "do you think I have scar tissue in there. We're now at the end of May and doctor visits and an MRI later, he's scheduled for ulnar nerve transposition surgery. So in June of '15 he has the surgery. Doc tells us he had a "spider web" of scar tissue around the nerve.
After all this, things work out for a reason and he heads to school in July. The "reason", he is on campus with one of the best if not arguably the best pitching coach in college baseball. They bring him along slowly and when he eventually throws his first bullpen, the coach tells him he's seen enough, he doesn't need to rush into fall ball and says he will play a major roll in the spring. He eventually has a limited, quiet but strong late fall.
Sorry but we're not done. :-) Right before Thanksgiving, he starts complaining about what sounds like a hernia. It only bothers him when he lifts and runs but not throwing. I say, welcome to the family, I had one, your uncle, grandad and great grandfather all had them. Only thing is, he had no protrusion. They want to keep him on a throwing program even though the rest of the staff is shut down because they are trying to build up his arm strength. 2 ultrasounds and an MRI later, it's discovered he has a sports hernia. Now originally, we were told they thought they could manage it through the season, but the pitching coach had a different idea. He didn't want him to have to worry about it during the season and when and if he would hurt. So, we found a specialist and he had surgery on Dec. 28th. He threw all the way up to surgery and will start throwing again lightly this Friday.
Through this whole ordeal, nothing has made us prouder than watching him grow as a young man and his resiliency and determination will carry him far.
So......here's cautiously and optimistically hoping it's all behind him and praying he can just do what he so passionately loves!