Road to recovery: Tucker Fritz

Bryce Thomas

Fresh off a recent knee injury, Jr. Tucker Fritz sat in his doctor’s office awaiting the news on his future in the sports he loves. His doctor entered the room and gave him a decision to make. “Tucker, you can go one of two ways, you can get surgery and be out for the next 9 months, or you can leave it alone and do some rehab on it and be back in time for the season. You tore your MCL and PCL, but your knee is still structurally sound.” Fritz was injured in the 3rd quarter of the East Kentwood football game. He was tackled from behind; when taken down, he immediately knew something was wrong.

  Up until his injury, the game of baseball had come fairly easy to Fritz. He had been on one of the best travel teams in the area since he was nine, helping his team win almost every tournament they played in. As a sophomore on the West Ottawa Varsity baseball team, he started every game at third base, at least the ones that he didn’t pitch , and he hit the ball well.

  As a major contributor in his sophomore years, Fritz knew that he would have a better season as a junior on a better team. His answer to the doctor was “definitely.” He was positive he wanted to take the risk and play through his injury. Because he knew that if he didn’t play through it, there would be no baseball for him for nine months, and Fritz wasn’t about to let that happen. Though his knee was still structurally sound, Fritz would lose some of his lateral movement. By playing, he would be risking injuring himself further, and structurally destroying his entire knee. He knew that he had to be back and contribute to a team with state title aspirations, and he knew that the risk would not be as great as the reward.

  After sitting out the rest of the football season and resting a few weeks, Fritz began his rehab process. He started out with light running and only bodyweight exercises: squats, push-ups, and core work. A few weeks passed and he was able to start doing weighted lifts and exercises. “I’m proud of Tucker for putting in the rehab work and getting stronger in the weight room,”  Coach Matt Naber said. Thanks to the rehab process, Fritz currently has back most of the strength in his knee, and has squatted as much as 315 pounds since his injury. Fritz has attended almost all of the baseball open gyms, has swung the bat and has been able to play field without any problems .

  All of Fritz’ hard work will pay off this season. He has worked himself into the best shape of his life, thanks to the lifting which helped  him get where he needs to be for the season. Sr. Infielder Sean Hoey said, “It’s nice to see Tucker competition ready, and we are excited to have him back and ready to go by game one.” All of his hard work and dedication will help him as a player and allow him to have more endurance on the mound, and give him some speed on the base paths. “Tucker will have a significant impact for our team this season offensively, defensively, and on the mound as a pitcher,” Coach Jason Chapa said.

  Thanks to smart decisions, Fritz will have a major role in the baseball team’s road to McLane Baseball Stadium at Kobs Field, where the state semi-finals and championships are held this spring.