Months After Fracturing Skull, 2015 Jack Norton Has Radnor Rolling
Rob Norton has seen just about everything in the sports world.
He's coached just about everything and watched his older son, Robbie, play soccer, lacrosse and develop into one of the best swimmers in Delaware County in recent history before swimming and playing lacrosse at Brown University. His daughter, Alyssa, played tennis for Radnor and his younger son, Jack, is a soccer player and NXT 2015 midfielder.
As it turned out, Rob thought he had seen it all. Then he watched Jack go up for a header in a soccer game against Strath Haven this fall. He'd seen his son go up to play the ball in the air so many times before, but not like this.
Read the rest of the story after the jump.
"I went up for a head ball and the Strath Haven kid came in late and hit my head on the side in the air," Jack explained, "and I landed on my head on the turf. I have no recollection of that night."
"I've coached a lot and been to a lot of games, but I've never seen anything like that. When it happened, I didn't know what the matter was," Rob said. "I just saw him crumpled up into a ball and when we got on the field a minute later, he was really not breathing well. His lips were blue and he was really struggling. My wife (Fiona) is a nurse who's done a lot of ICU work, so she gave him a couple of rescube breaths to get him back correctly. It took him a bit, but then he started moving his hands and feet, but those first five minutes were really difficult as a parent."
Jack, the April NXT LC Player of the Month, was out on the turf and was rushed to Crozer-Chester Hospital, only to find out that he had a fractured skull and light brain bleeding. That's what he was told, anyway, because he doesn't remember it.
"I have very vague memories of the ambulance ride and getting my CT scan," Jack said. "I had to spend a week in the hospital with no lights on. I couildn't have a roommate because I couldn't have lights on or any distractions. Then I had to spend three more weeks at home in bed with a towel over my head. No electronic stimulation at all, either, which was rough. Then I started getting better a little bit at a time. My friends started coming over, which was nice."
That month or so spent getting to know his bed on a personal basis took a toll on Jack, especially with the symptoms he dealt with. It got to a point where Rob wasn't quite sure as to how quickly his son would bounce back.
"The first couple weeks were really tough," Rob said. "He's done a good job of sticking with it, but the first month or so was really slow. He wasn't getting much better and he had very, very bad concussion symptoms. But after four weeks, he started getting better quickly and he got back to school."
He couldn't handle full-time duty quite yet, though, and worked his way through half-days for a week or so before progessing to full days. Luckily for him, Norton's teachers were more than understanding and helped guide him along as he worked to make up for lost time. At the same time, doubt crept into his mind as to whether or not he'd be able to play lacrosse in the spring for the defending co-Central League champion Raiders.
"I didn't know if I'd be able to play lacrosse this season at that point because I had a pretty major concussion," Jack added. "I was meeting with a lot of doctors and getting as many opinions as I could. I tried to be as diligent as possible with the medicine and the rehab so I could get back as soon as possible. After two months, I started to work out a lot to finally get my strength back and then I realized I might be able to play."
Jack worked to rebuild the 15-20 pounds that he had lost because of the injury and worked his way into game shape...and then some. When he finally got back on the field for Radnor, it was apparent that he'd gone the extra mile with the hopes of playing this year, especially with playing time readily available after Radnor graduated 17 seniors. All he's done is blossom into the Raiders' top offensive threat, posting 15 goals and five assists in a 5-1 Radnor start, heading into tonight's rivalry game with Conestoga and he's kept his grades where they were and upped his SAT score. He's primed for a monster summer circuit this summer where he figures to be a dominant player for Andy Hayes' NXT 2015 team and his willingness to do it whatever it took to get back is definitely NXT.
"He was out almost six months, but when he got back on the field, you could see that he was bigger and stronger than last year," Raiders coach John Begier said. "He committed to lifting even though he wasn't playing in the fall and winter. Physically, he's a different player than he was last year and with that injury and not knowing if he'd be back, he's made the most of every minute out there. He's a heck of an athlete who can run all day and can really shoot the ball, but he's worked on his fundamentals. By being fundamental in how he plays and doing all the little things, his game has gone to another level. We've needed him to step up with the injuries that we've had, but he's the kind of guy who can handle the pressure."
"He's competing as hard as we've ever seen him do, especially with him knowing that he wasn't sure if he'd ever be able to play the game," Begier said.
Jack's road back may have gotten longer at times and added some twists and turns, but it's clear that where he is today is where he wanted to be all along and that is, without question, NXT.