Nick Bass Success Story

By on December 4, 2014

Nick_Tackle_2014_mediumHave you ever had one of those moments where time just seems to stand still?

I had one of those last year.  It was the first quarter of my son’s 4th highschool football game of his Junior season.  I mentioned to my wife (his step mother) that he just seemed a little off that day.  Everything he was doing just seemed a bit sloppy, which was vastly different from his usual intense, precision play.  He started both offense as a tight end and defense as an outside linebacker.  He had made several tackles already, but they weren’t the usual solid take downs.

So, near the end of the first quarter I saw him go in for a tackle and a typical pile up occurred due to several players trying to get in on that particular play.  Once the pile up cleared there was someone still down on the field…

A few seconds later, fear filled me to the very core of my being because I realized it was my son.  He wasn’t moving.  This is the same fear that I’ve had every time he was down, but typically he would be rolling around in pain from a sprained ankle or something like that.

I waited as the trainers from both teams approached him on the field…then the coaches from both teams went out onto the field next to him…then they waved for the ambulance.  At that point, I was up out of my seat on the bleachers and making my way down to the field at a full run.

When I finally got to him on the field there was such a large group of people huddled around him I had to squeeze my way in just to see him.  They already had the backboard under him and had his head taped down so he couldn’t move it. They were also removing his face mask so they could get to his airway if needed.  I finally got into his range of vision and looked at his teary eyes and he says, “I want that face mask back!”

He was the top salesman of his football team’s fundraiser also that year, and one of the things the head coach did for him was buy him a face mask as a reward that was just like Ray Lewis’s face mask of the Baltimore Ravens.

Once we assured him that he would get the face mask back, I asked him how he was doing, at which point he told me his right arm was tingling and his left leg was numb.  Upon hearing that I fought to hold back the tears and stay strong for him as they carried him off to the ambulance.

We spent a really long night in the hospital emergency room and he was later admitted that night to the hospital.

The next morning, the neurologist came in and broke the news to us.  He said that my son was fortunate because no vertebrae were broken however he had sustained a spinal cord bruise and would not be playing football anymore.

As the doctor broke the news I could see my son’s eyes start to glisten.  He had been playing football since he was six years old. This is the same kid at six years of age that told me his dream was to play in the NFL, and the cute thing about it was he would always tell the same story of how that was going to be.  He would tell you that when they would get done with practice every day he would drive his best friend players back to his house in his semi-tractor with the sleeper cab on it.  Then they would build a fire and cook hotdogs by the fire.  Then they would get some sleep and all ride together to the big game on Sunday in his semi-tractor with the sleeper cab on it.

So, there you can see how big his dream was and what had been taken from him due to a freak accident.  He had some extreme lows during this time because he was in a neck brace for three months.  Doctors orders were that he couldn’t change the neck brace himself and even had to wear it taking a shower.  He had two identical neckbrace’s.  One that he would use to get wet in the shower and then a dry one that he wore the rest of the time.  His mother or I had to lay him flat on the floor and make sure his head didn’t move as we changed the brace for him.

At the end of those three long months we met with the neurologist again and he said that Nick had healed but he does not recommend any contact sports for anyone, especially football.  This was another devastating blow for my son but then the doctor in a roundabout way said but of course that’s up to the parents and the child.  I understood where the doctor was coming from because he sees a lot of injuries from athletes, and some kids aren’t as lucky as my son because they never walk again or they lose their lives.  So, we counted our blessings that my son was healthy again and there was no permanent damage.

We had a long conversation about playing football and decided that taking away football from him would basically be taking away his life because that’s one of the big things he lives for.   So, at that point, he started the long road to recovery.  First,  he started walking and jogging to try to get back in shape, and then started weightlifting again.  What he found was that he was much slower than he used to be and much, much weaker. He only had four months before we would have to go to college football prospect summer camps where he would display his skills.

This is where his sheer grit determination and drive came in. I’m so proud of him because he was so extremely motivated to get back to doing what he loved to do.  He did endless hours of training on his own as well as with his high school football team to rebuild everything he had lost due to his injury.

He had to give up offense as a tight end because it was recommended that he wear something called a horse collar, which keeps your head from being snapped back, as a safety precaution.  If you’re wearing this you can’t look up very high because the back of your helmet hits the collar.  So, playing tight end on offense was out of the question since he might not be able to see the ball up in the air as it was passed to him.  That left him with his outside linebacker position, which he started and averaged several tackles each game.

I’m proud to say that he just finished his Senior high school football season and he is being recruited by several colleges to play football for them!  His story is one of amazing perseverance and dedication to something he loved so much that it was literally a part of him.