first_img Published on October 15, 2013 at 12:18 am Contact Joe: jtinfant@syr.edu | @joeinfantino Facebook Twitter Google+ Six weeks after shattering his leg and four weeks after having it amputated, Koni Dole started over.Trying out his new prosthetic leg, Dole stood between two dip bars in the Huntley Project (Worden, Mont.) High School weight room, ready to catch himself should he fall, and threw a tennis ball back and forth with his coach.He described the pain as excruciating, but it’s a pain he carried with him to medicine ball work shortly thereafter, and ultimately all the way back onto the football field.“Honestly, I put so much work into getting used to my blade that I don’t even remember what it’s like to have two legs,” Dole said.After amputating his leg, the doctors said he would never play football again.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“But they were wrong,” Dole said. “They were wrong about a lot of things.”Less than a year after a gruesome leg injury, Dole, a senior defensive end and fullback for Huntley Project, is back on the field. He has been a disruptive presence on defense, recording 36 tackles through six games. He is back to doing the “dirty work he did last year,” head coach Guy Croy said.In August, Montana State University offered him a preferred walk-on spot, which he has yet to accept.During a game on Oct. 19, 2012, Dole’s Red Devils were down six points in the fourth quarter against rival Shepherd High School. Dole penetrated the pocket looking to force a turnover, but a player slid into his right leg just as he had planted it, and the impact snapped the lower part of the leg in half.Because of the initial shock, he didn’t know just how serious the injury was. He tried to walk himself off the field. Unable to find any stability, though, he laid back down.That’s when he picked up his leg and saw it “just hanging there.”“The bone was out of the skin,” Dole said.Blood was everywhere.“I heard the pop, but that was about 20 feet or so from me,” Croy said. “ … Right away you just wanted to take care of him.”What should have been only two days in the hospital turned into two weeks. During that time, Dole underwent five surgeries to reset the bone and lost almost 60 pounds. A serious infection caused the muscles in his leg to deteriorate, and the doctors were forced to amputate it below the knee.Frustrated with the “slow-paced” physical therapy plan that might have had him walking again in about a year, Dole took his recovery into his own hands.His last surgery was on a Friday. He researched amputee athletes during his three-day bed rest, and on Monday, he was back in school — lifting weights.“I just tried not to do anything different than what I had done before, you know?” Dole said. “I was still in the weight room before and after school just as much as I was before the injury.”Four weeks later, Dole had to relearn how to walk when he got his Nike Road Runner prosthetic — a curved carbon-fiber blade similar to the kind South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius ran on in the 2012 Olympics. Dole’s blade is thicker, though, allowing it to take more of a beating. And it is customized with a set of spikes torn from a pair of his cleats.He spent two to three hours daily in the weight room getting back into shape. Four months later, he joined the track team to learn to run. He said the pain was excruciating because his limb was not 100 percent healthy. Yet he was healing faster than anyone expected.On Aug. 30, 10 months after his injury, Dole suited up for the first football game of the season and led his team to a 45-0 win with two rushing touchdowns and a sack.Several games later, he impressed Plentywood High School head coach Bill Nyby with his consistency in a 10-7 win.Nyby said Dole should definitely accept Montana State’s offer.“I say, ‘Hell yes,’” Nyby said. “You won’t know if you can make it or not if you don’t go out and give it a try.”On Oct. 25, Dole will be right back where he was when the snap of a football eventually led to the snap of his leg: lined up across from the Shepherd High School offense. If you ask him, he’ll say there’s no difference between last season’s catastrophe and this game: He’s going to hold nothing back.“Nothing comes easy, so I’m going to keep pushing the limits,” Dole said. Commentslast_img

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