Brad Groleau was covering home plate on a dropped third strike, a play he has certainly done before in his baseball career. This time he did it pitching for the U Dogs out of Lockport in a summer league contest in Lombard.
He made the tag and got the runner, but he was also out. Out with a torn ACL to his left knee, the second time he has sustained the same injury to the same knee in three years.
“I was covering home and my knee just gave out on me. I tagged the runner. I basically tried to stop and it just went out on me. I don’t even know how it happened,” he said.
The first time he tore his ACL was also on a freak, non-contact play in football. He was making his first varsity carry his sophomore year (2010 against Kewanee) and when he planted his left leg to make a cut, his knee went out on him.
The second time comes after Groleau made it through two years of varsity football and basketball and three years of varsity baseball. His doctor told him the chances of that happening again were very, very slim.
“Right now, it’s very hard, but once I get the surgery over and start my therapy, I’m going to be very determined to get it all done,” he said.
Groleau has signed to play baseball for McKendree University in Lebanon and said his coach there has been “very, very supportive.” He will take a medical redshirt his freshman year.
“My scholarship and everything is good. I’m going to try to work very hard and come back even stronger than I did the first time,” he said.
Groleau is keeping a positive attitude and knows God has a plan for him.
“I feel that God gives the toughest tasks to his toughest warriors,” he said. ‘I’m not sure what that plan is yet, but I can not live in the past nor in the future. I can only live in the present and get through the surgery and tackle the therapy each day. This injury will not stop me from playing college baseball.
“I believe I can come back from this even stronger than the first time. God is always with me and he will guide me.”
St. Bede athletic director Tom McGunnigal knows the kind of character Groleau has and knows he will bounce back strong once again.
“He has one of the most remarkable positive attitudes about conquering any challenge laid out in front of him,” McGunnigal said. “He is the least deserving of having an injury happen like this to him – let alone twice – but he is the one who can comeback from this time and again because of his mental toughness, work ethic, and attitude.”
The surgery has been moved up two weeks to July 8 as originally planned and then he will begin the long rehab process once again. Until then, he’s been getting out and about, taking in the recent College World Series in Omaha and Wednesday’s White Sox-Orioles game at the Cell.
“Baseball’s my love. It’s good to be at the ballpark,” he said from Omaha when I first reached him.
His parting words to me that day summed up his attitude to a T.
“It’s definitely not going to stop me,” he said.
Knowing Brad Groleau and his determination and faith, I know it’s not going to stop him either.
Kevin Hieronymus is the BCR Sports Editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org