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From Torn MCL to German Bowl run – Kevin Hambrecht

Kevin Hambrecht - The Battered Bastards

Kevin Hambrecht – The Battered Bastards

Hi. My name is Kevin Hambrecht and I play Offensive Line for the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns in the GFL.

I just want to start by thanking The Battered Bastards for letting me share this with you.

My story began back in 2003 when i started playing football for the Rhein Neckar Bandits. I loved it there. I made friends for life amongst those guys, and we shared many epic moments both on, and off the field.

We were in the German 4th Division but we started rising up through the leagues and eventually made it to the GFL. The Bandits twice competed in the GFL playoffs before suffering relegation to the GFL2 in 2016.

After the disappointment of relegation with the Bandits, I had to think about about my future. If I wanted to continue playing at the highest level, I had to switch teams. So I talked with a few different teams, but I made my mind up pretty quickly when I knew that the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns were an option for me.

I wanted to play for the best team in Europe and compete for the German Bowl. I signed up with the Unicorns and that year we won every single game. An undefeated season, filled with some really great games.

Kevin Hambrecht  - Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns  - Kalli Photography

Kevin Hambrecht – Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns – Kalli Photography

I was really enjoying my football with the Unicorns. We were winning games and lifting trophies, but disaster struck on a warm summer’s day during a game against the Saarland Hurricanes.

I was on the PAT team and we were kicking to make the score 60:0. Right after the kick, an opponent fell right on top of my left knee while coming from the other side. In all my years of playing football, nothing bad has ever happened to me, but I fell to the turf and tried to get up. I wanted to get up so bad. I managed to get to my feet, but I fell down again. I knew right then that I had damaged something in my knee.

My buddies helped me during the ride home and I went to see the Doctor. He told me that I had torn my MCL and it usually heals itself in around 6 weeks.

I did a lot of training and rehab, but it took me 11 weeks to get back on the field. After 3 games back, I knew something still wasn’t right. I went to my regular Doctor, whom I’ve visted for many years. He looked at my MRI and said, “When’s your surgery?”. I told him that I didn’t have one and that I was told that the MCL grows back on it own.

So, that same evening DR Maibum from Heidelberg sent me for another MRI. The next day, after looking at the pictures, he told me that the MCL did in fact grow back, but, only up to the knee and not back above the knee where it had been torn. He said I needed surgery and the 3 games I played had made everything worse. He went on to tell me that the cartlidge was torn and the meniscus was ripped in two.

DR Maibum hooked me up with his colleague DR Streich to perform the surgery on my knee. We scheduled to get it done in November 2017, but I suffered an infection due to a nasty Mosquito bite and had to push it back until December. So on the 12th December (my brothers birthday), I went to the clinic in Heidelberg and got it done.

During the surgery, the MCL got cut out and replaced with a material called Fibretape. It was attached to two anchors made from milk sugar, one in my shin and the other in my knee. The Doctor also fixed the cartlidge and put my meniscus back together.

The day of my surgery, a few teammates and some friends visited me in the hospital, but the next day, when the operation was complete, i had 27 visitors. Teammates, friends and family. It was a great day, even if it was spent in hospital. I ended up spending a total of three days in the hospital, but the surgery was a success. I would like to say a massive “THANK YOU” to everyone for their friendship during that tough time.

Over the next four weeks, I wasn’t allowed to walk, or bend my knee. It was strapped up straight the whole time and it was rough. All I could do was lay in bed, or on the couch.

After the four weeks, my Chiropractor, Tamara, opened up the brace. It felt like heaven. She adjusted my leg by 5 degrees, a small amount, but still not enough. Tamara did a great job and week by week i was getting it adjusted a few degrees more.

Kevin Hambrecht  - In hospital with giant knee brace

Kevin Hambrecht – In hospital with giant knee brace

I wasn’t really happy with my progress until I reached the 30 degrees mark. I was able to try walking again with the aid of crutches, and after three months, I was able to walk unaided. I was finally able to bend my knee again.

I was getting rehab twice a week at Sportomed Rehab and it helped a lot. They also offered me training to help me get back on the field. Tamara and Dominic hooked me up with a good training plan and I got back to work in the gym.

The Unicorns had already started their football training and camps, but I couldn’t go because the journey was just too far for me. It can take me up to 60mins to get there on a good day, 90mins if I hit traffic. I had to continue training on my own, get back into football shape and build up the strength in my knee.

By mid July i was back at practice. It just felt so good to be back, but it wasn’t until August that my Doctors and Physio finally cleared me to get back on the field. I’ve been playing football for 15 years, so the last 9 months away from it was a very long time for me.

I wanted to get back playing, I felt ready, so I asked the coaches if I could make my comeback on the PAT and FG team first. Then we had a game in Frankfurt and I played special teams. Small steps each time, but it was really good to be back playing football again. The next game I played the 4th quarter, then the game after that I got to play the 2nd half.

I can now say that I’m finally back on the field in full health. Not as a starter, but a great backup. My goal this year is to get back playing regularly and win another German Bowl. It’s just great to be dressed for games again and not being injured.

After a year of small steps, I’m finally ready to make the big one.

Kevin Hambrecht  - Kevin on crutches with Anne

Kevin Hambrecht – Kevin on crutches with Anne

Finally, I would like to thank my girl Anne. Without her during the hard times, life would have been impossible. “Thank you babe”.


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