HUDSON — The thunder rumbled in the distance and the opponents crashed in, just as they did three months ago on the hit that nearly ended Jamie Hamby’s career.
The 5-foot-9, 145-pound senior took one blow, then another, then another on that kickoff return 10 minutes into Hudson’s spring jamboree at Anclote. He looked up from the ground and saw black. He couldn’t move.
When Hamby regained consciousness at the hospital, doctors told him he’d never walk again.
“I was flipping out,” Hamby said.
But when he woke up the next morning, the tingling returned to his body. His spine was bruised, not broken. He had herniated two lower back discs, but he could walk to the bathroom and back.
Doctors released him but said his high school football career was through. Hamby disagreed.
“I can’t get out of the game,” Hamby said.
So he didn’t. He got another opinion and fought through physical therapy. By June, the pain was gone, and he was ready for 7-on-7 games.
Doctors finally cleared him for full-contact practices Monday at his 9:30 a.m. physical. Six and a half hours later, he was jogging over the untouched grass as raindrops dotted his bright gold helmet on the first day of fall practice.
“I’m really excited,” first-year coach Mark Kantor said, “really overjoyed that he’s cleared and that he’s back with us.”
Hamby looked fine on the field. He caught slants over the middle as a receiver, and coaches had to ask him not to be too physical at safety.
But he remains nervous in the locker room. He’s worried about how he’ll react when he straps pads on later this week or in his first game back later this month.
His fear didn’t show Monday, as the thunder crept in and Hudson’s kickoff team charged. Hamby caught the ball and squeaked through a hole upright, unscathed and ready for more.