Rice Lake (WQOW) – There are only so many games in an athlete's high school career, and you can bet that Rice Lake senior Adam Henkel will cherish every one of them.
During a football game his junior year, Henkel found himself at the bottom of a pile.
"I saw my leg fold over and flop on top of me, and it was pretty painful," remembers Henkel. "I just started yelling so that people would get off of me."
He completely dislocated his knee, tearing his ACL, MCL and PCL. A single ligament held his knee together.
"It's real, it's a traumatic situation. He's just lucky that he didn't damage an artery," says George Metropulos, a physical therapist at the Marshfield Clinic.
For 36 hours, Henkel lost all feeling in his foot. A third of patients who suffer this type of injury lose significant use of the leg. Another third are forced to amputate. Despite the odds, Henkel remained positive.
"For some reason I knew it was going to be better," adds Henkel.
And he was one of the lucky one. Henkel regained feeling in his foot, but still faced a long road to recovery. He had two surgeries immediately following the injury, forcing him to stay off his feet for four months.
"I wouldn't have been able to recover without my parents," says Henkel. "As far as emotional support, they were there for me throughout the whole ordeal. I couldn't have done it without them."
Little by little, he began to improve. Metropulos says it was his attitude that helped him as much as anything.
"Every day Adam came in to therapy, there was pain. That he had to deal with that and smile and understand that there is an end point to it; that takes incredible stick-to-itiveness," says Metropulos.
After just 18 months, three surgeries, and countless hours of physically therapy, Henkel returned to the field this season for the Rice Lake baseball team.
"It just felt, good. I hadn't been out on the field for quite awhile, and it just felt right," says Henkel.
"His leg was so bad that you didn't think he would be back. I thought he would be a manager. And now he's a starting player for me," says Rice Lake head coach Mike Neil.
Beyond his talents on the diamond, Henkel is providing an emotional boost for the Warriors this season.
"It's been a miracle, what he has done," says Neil. "He didn't slow down once. None of them do anymore because of the drive that he has pushes them to the limit. And that's all you can ask for."
"Just being around them, I never felt like I left. It's nice to think that I can be a contributing part and just finish out my senior year on the varsity baseball team," says Henkel.
And he is proving that sometimes the biggest accomplishment is just playing the game. Henkel plans to attend the University of Wisconsin in the fall, where he hopes to play a number of intramurals.
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