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Prep sports: Wave of major injuries astounds Canby


Cougars athletes have been dealt severe setbacks with alarming regularity over the last 18 months.

by: JEFF GOODMAN / FILE - Canby junior Devon Fortier pushes senior teammate Sam Bodines wheelchair this past football season before a road game against Lake Oswego. Fortier, who had a breakout sophomore season, missed the entire year after blowing out his knee at a football showcase over the summer. Bodine sustained season-ending injuries in the Cougars conference opener against Oregon City.Propping himself up with crutches as he stood on the field at Lake Oswego High School this past fall, Mike Vaught was in disbelief.

The Canby football team had just lost a close league game to the Lakers, but the result was hardly the fourth-year coach’s primary concern.

Junior starter Jace Cates had been sidelined in the second quarter with a leg injury. Senior lineman Craig Fobert had required treatment on his knee.

And they were just the latest victims.

A week earlier, star linebacker Sam Bodine sustained grotesque season-ending ankle and leg injuries. The same evening, leading rusher Dominic Shorter came away with a foot injury that kept him out for several games.

As if the offseason medical issues keeping Devon Fortier and Timmy Johnson off the field for the year weren’t big enough setbacks for the Cougars.

“When you have six first-team all-league-caliber guys out of the game, you can’t replace that,” said Vaught, who was using crutches to alleviate pain in his left Achilles tendon. “You lose a couple and you’re all right. You lose three, you think you’re maybe OK. But when you have six guys in one game that aren’t playing ... you can’t blame it on the injuries, but there comes a point where you can’t lose that caliber of kids and compete at the same level.”

Unfortunately for Canby, major injuries to key players have occurred beyond the football field as well — with alarming regularity.

From head trauma to broken feet and everything in between, injuries are common in high school athletics — not just at Canby. Players and coaches understand the risks associated with their sports. Sometimes they’ll even chalk them up to being part of the game.

But the rash of serious injuries since the start of the 2012-13 school year makes “Is Canby cursed?” seem like a reasonable question.

“It’s totally weird,” Bryce Gillespie said.

Gillespie would know. He was the high school’s athletic trainer until this past summer, when he accepted a position with West Linn-based Active Edge Wellness.

Gillespie said recently that Canby’s current athletic trainer, Carl Mason, has joked that the string of injuries over the last 18 months is Gillespie’s fault. And when Gillespie responds by saying he has a different job now, which includes serving as Wilsonville High School’s athletic trainer, Mason counters.

“‘He’ll say, ‘You’re not far enough away for (the curse) to stop,’” Gillespie said.

When asked whether overexertion is at all to blame for the mounting pile of injuries at Canby, Gillespie rattled off a few common overuse maladies — plantar fasciitis, tendinopathy, shin splints — and noted that those have been largely avoided by area athletes.

“We haven’t really seen a whole lot of those,” he said. “Towards the end of the year is when you expect to see those, just from the constant grind of tearing everything down. In Canby, everything we did with training and workouts in the summer and coaches structuring their practices — we didn’t have a lot of those stupid, nagging injuries.

“They’re actually legitimate injuries. It’s an unfortunate luck of the draw.”

Severe knee injuries have been particularly prevalent among Canby athletes. Fortier blew out his knee at a summer football showcase. Braxton Ennes tore his anterior cruciate ligament during the fall football season. Hygelund missed a crucial stretch of the past wrestling season to recover from a knee injury.

The Cougars girls basketball program was hit especially hard by knee misfortune. Two key players (Taylor Lee and Bailey Raines) missed parts of the 2013-14 season, and two other potential contributors (Cianne Cates and Lindsey Wujek) missed all of it.

Health woes have also debilitated Canby athletes in stranger ways, too. Johnson had to have surgery for a congenital heart defect that was discovered after he sustained a concussion in pole-vault practice. Keith Nichols was unable to compete at the state wrestling championships in 2013 after coming down with chickenpox days before the regional tournament.

The injuries are sobering reminders for players and coaches.

“We talk about taking advantage of every play, every day,” Vaught said. “It can be over on any play. Your season can be over. Your career can be over in one play.”



A sampling of injuries sustained by key Canby athletes since the beginning of the 2012-13 school year:

Sept. 7, 2012

Brody Schwartz injures his foot during the Canby football team’s second game of the season, a 31-7 loss to Camas (Wash.). He spends most of the rest of the year on crutches.

Oct. 5, 2012

Senior starter Konnen Bell sustains knee, ankle and thumb injuries in the Canby football team’s league game against Lake Oswego. The Cougars fall, 41-20.

Nov. 16, 2012

Senior quarterback Sam Stelk breaks his wrist early in the first quarter of the Canby football team’s second-round playoff game against Tigard, his former school. The Tigers win, 42-14. Stelk misses several weeks of the 2012-13 basketball season to recover from the injury.

Feb. 15-16, 2013

The Canby wrestling team competes at its regional tournament in Oregon City without star senior Keith Nichols, who comes down with chickenpox a few days before the event. He is not granted a state bid despite a petition by his family.

March 27, 2013

Senior catcher Mike Caruso fractures his ankle while trying to reach first base March 27 during the Canby baseball team’s game against Colorado Springs-Liberty (Colo.) in the Coach Bob National Invitational tournament in Arizona. Caruso misses the rest of the season, and the Cougars go 2-19 without him.

May 15, 2013

Timmy Johnson has surgery to repair a congenital heart defect that was discovered in medical tests following a concussion he sustained in a pole-vaulting accident about two months earlier. The rehabilitation process keeps Johnson from finishing his track and field season and prevents him from playing football in the fall, when he was expected to contend for time at quarterback.

May 16, 2013

Battling a quad strain, Canby senior Karley Baggerly misses out on a third-straight district title in the girls long jump at the Three Rivers League championships.

Aug. 21, 2013

Standout sprinter Devon Fortier has surgery following a knee injury he sustained during a summer football showcase event. He misses his junior football and basketball seasons.

Sept. 3, 2013

The Canby girls soccer team starts its season without sophomore Madison Shorter, who misses the entire year to recover from an injury she sustained in the club ranks. The forward was a consistent source of offense in her breakout freshman campaign.

Sept. 5, 2013

Junior goalkeeper Brynn Stegmeier sustains a season-ending injury in the Canby girls soccer team’s second game, a 6-2 loss to Portland-Grant. The Cougars finish their season with a 6-8-2 record and a 3-0 loss to Gresham-Barlow in the first round of the state playoffs.

Sept. 13, 2013

Noah Kyllo sustains a hip pointer in the Canby football team’s nonleague game against Camas (Wash.), a 48-7 setback. The senior does not play in the Cougars’ win over Portland-Lincoln the following week and plays at partial strength for much of the season.

Sept. 27, 2013

Star fullback/linebacker Sam Bodine breaks his left fibula and ankle in grotesque fashion on a running play in the first quarter of the Canby football team’s league opener against Oregon City. He misses the rest of his senior season. Cougars senior Dominic Shorter, the team’s leading rusher through five games, fractures his foot during the same game and doesn’t return as a running back for much of the rest of the season.

Oct. 4, 2013

Junior linebacker Jace Cates injures his leg in the Canby football team’s game at Lake Oswego, a 35-14 loss, and misses the rest of the Three Rivers League slate. All-league lineman Craig Fobert sustains a knee injury in the same game.

Oct. 18, 2013

Junior tight end Braxton Ennes tears his anterior cruciate ligament in the Canby football team’s game against West Linn and misses the rest of the season.

Oct. 31, 2013

Cianne Cates, the daughter of Canby girls basketball coach Brooke Cates, has surgery after tearing her anterior cruciate ligament during the fall soccer season. She sits out her freshman hoops season, when she likely would have been a key contributor.

Jan. 3, 2014

Returning starter Taylor Lee makes an appearance in the first half of the Canby girls basketball team’s win over Silverton after missing the first nine games of the season to recover from a knee sprain. She tore the anterior cruciate ligament in the same knee as a freshman.

Jan. 3-4, 2014

Canby wrestling senior Noel Hygelund, a returning state placer, injures his knee during the Pac-Coast Championships at Hudson’s Bay High School in Vancouver, Wash. Hygelund, who ends up missing about six crucial weeks of the season, rebounds with a regional title but does not reach the podium at the OSAA tournament.

Feb. 14, 2014

Senior guard Bailey Raines sustains severe knee damage during the second quarter of the Canby girls basketball team’s loss to Oregon City and misses the rest of the season. The Cougars rally to defeat Beaverton-Southridge in the first round of the playoffs before falling to Portland-Westview.