TAKING THE LONG ROAD BACK
To get to the 2012 season, midfielder Matt Hamilton has dealt with pain, gone under the knife and sp
Published: Thursday, September 13, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 13, 2012 21:09
It all started during the spring of 2010, when then freshman midfielder Matt Hamilton was extending out for a ball, and he felt a slight strain around his groin area.
Used to playing through bumps and bruises, Hamilton paid little attention to the pulling.
“I didn’t think anything of it,” he said. “That’s the way it always is when you’re younger. You just keep playing, and it gets better on its own.”
Now a senior captain, Hamilton has aspirations of taking his team to a SUNYAC title and, maybe, a run in the national tournament. But the road to this season has been filled with pain, doctor visits, bad news and more bad news, all of which started with the nagging strain in his groin.
At the end of the season, he decided to let the training staff know what he had been dealing with. It was then, that head athletic trainer, Jason Prachter, suggested Hamilton try physical therapy to straighten out the problem.
“I went to a therapist all summer long, and they diagnosed it just as a strain,” Hamilton said.
After going through a summer of therapy and rehab, he went into the fall season feeling a little better, but there was still pain. After discussing it with the training staff, Hamilton decided to play through the pain.
Despite the nagging pain all season, he was named to the 2010 SUNYAC All-Tournament team. But the strainforced him to take a week off here and there because it got to the point where he could barely walk.
Something had to be done.
It was after that, when he made visited a specialist. After several MRIs, Hamilton was diagnosed with a stress fracture. Yet again he rehabbed, this time through the winter and spring. At the end of the spring semester, Hamilton was told what he didn’t want to hear.
“They were just like ‘I don’t know why it’s not getting better,’” he said.
He visited a general surgeon in Plattsburgh and was diagnosed with a hernia that would require surgery and sideline him for two months.
“I was on pain medication, couldn’t lift anything over 10 pounds. (I) couldn’t work, none of that,” he said.
“It was pretty terrible.”
In August 2011, Hamilton was able to begin doing physical activities again. Not long after hearing the news, he decided to take a light jog near his home in Keeseville, N.Y.
Within 10 minutes, the pain he’d had for more than a year was back.
Hamilton consulted his doctor, who referred him to a doctor who was located in Philadelphia.
During the 2011 preseason, he spent three days in Philadelphia undergoing tests, consulting doctors and undergoing his second surgery in three months — this time to find out exactly what was ailing him.
It turned out the hernia had been only part of Hamilton’s problem. He also had two tears in his abductor muscles and a tear in his abdominal muscle.
The surgery was a success, but the doctor told him that it would be almost the full season before he could return to the field.
“We decided that I wasn’t going to try to play towards the end of the season and that I was just going to miss the year,” Hamilton said.
Not being able to play for an entire season was something that the former AuSable Valley Central standout never envisioned when he came to PSUC in 2009.
During his time at Ausable, Hamilton was a four- year varsity starter, a CVAC All-Star, a two-time Division II All-Star and 2008 league MVP.
For someone with so much success, sitting out a season was going to be something unusual.
He was able to get through the rehab process with the help of family and friends, including his former high school coach, Todd Pierson.
“I spoke to him quite a lot throughout the year,” Pierson said. “I just told him to keep working like he normally would, and it would be something that he would overcome. I had no doubt that he would be back out on the field playing for them again this year.”
PSUC head coach Chris Waterbury said he believes his player handled the tough situation exceptionally.
“I think he handled it very well,” Waterbury said. “He is a person that has been active and athletic all his life and now to sit around and not be able to do what he has mentally conditioned himself to do, I’m sure it was very difficult on him.”
Now that he is back on the field and completely healthy, Hamilton has helped the Cards get out to a (5-0) start this season, notching two goals already.
For his father, Robert Hamilton, seeing his son back out on the field playing the sport he loves is a great feeling.
“It’s awesome man,” Robert said. “One of the things that I have relished the most as a parent is being able to go out and watch my kids participate in things. To see the joy and how much passion he has for the sport, and watching him play is one of the greatest pleasures a parent can have.”
Hamilton has faced strong adversity during the past two years, but the experience is one that he is oddly thankful for.
“I really think it’s made me a better person mentally, knowing that this is just a speed bump,” he said. “It’s just a speed bump in life. It’s made me a better leader, it’s made me a better person and I’m thankful that I am able to see those things now.”