EMPORIA (KSNT) – In just his first two years at Emporia State, senior forward Brenden Van Dyke suffered three torn ligaments in his leg.
Two torn ACL’s and a torn meniscus each required surgery. The two ACL tears both called for a nine month recovery process.
“You sit there and watch your child cry,” Brenden’s mom Jill Dillion said. And I’m not talking a 5, 6-year-old crying, I’m talking a 6-foot-8, 200-pound child…”
The trials were as hard mentally as they were physically.
“Lot of long night’s I mean I’m calling my mom crying, talking to people, just crying my eyes out. I didn’t want to be done,” Van Dyke said.
Van Dyke tore his ACL for the second time just a few weeks after completing the successful recovery of the first tear.
“I’d come into practice, I’d have to leave. I couldn’t stand just watching… knowing that there’s a chance I probably couldn’t be a part of it again,” Van Dyke said.
He tore his meniscus just at the start of his final season.
“I’ve gone through rehab. I did it once. I did it twice. And then it’s just kind of at this point, is this just nature’s sign ‘Hey, stop. You’re done. It’s time to hang it up,'” Van Dyke said.
He chose to have part of the muscle removed instead of restarting another rehab process. He played in a game exactly two weeks after surgery.
The return would not have been possible without his support system of friends, family, teammates and coaches. However, even his biggest supporters were uncertain at times.
“We thought his career was all but over,” Emporia State head men’s basketball coach Craig Doty said.
Brenden’s mother was with him the whole way, trying to stay positive when she wasn’t sure what the future held.
“There was days I walked into my room and I’m like ‘I don’t know if we’re going to come back from this one…’ But my job was always to tell Brenden he was going to make it,” Dillon said.
Van Dyke scored 25 points on 9-for-10 from the field in the Hornets win over No. 7 Northwest Missouri State on Monday, Feb. 21.
“Him getting through this, he’s not only showing everybody what he can do, but he’s showing them what they can do too. He’s showing teammates, he’s showing opponents, he’s showing young kids… Anybody that has a problem, anybody that has an obstacle in their way, you can get through that with enough focus, with enough rehab, with enough energy and with staying positive and we’re so proud of Brenden because of that,” Doty said.