N.J. - When baseball player Dave Angebranndt hit a double to left
center that knocked in a run for the University of Delaware against
Towson University on Apr. 18, you might just think he was doing
his job. But for this catcher, it was the completion of a hard-fought
In fall 2008, Angebranndt, of Ewing, the former standout catcher
for Ewing High School, was entering his second year at Mercer County
Community College, where he expected to continue in his leadership
role as catcher for the Vikings baseball team. Having signed a pre-season
agreement to play at the University of Delaware the following year,
his future looked set.
Then, on January 12, 2009, as he headed for pre-season practice
at Mercer, he was in a serious car accident. His left arm took the
brunt of his injuries.
In the first of three surgeries at Capital Health's Fuld Campus
in Trenton, Angebranndt underwent an emergency arterial bypass to
save his arm. Two surgeries followed and he was released after 12
days in the hospital. His surgeon said it was unlikely that he would
play baseball again.
Angebranndt set out to prove him wrong.
"I worked hard before the injury," Angebranndt said. "After
the injury I had the motivation to work even harder."
that he spent some difficult early moments questioning "Why
me?," he quickly turned to the task at hand. MCCC Athletic
Trainer Lisa Camillone, who worked with him throughout his rehab,
said that Angebranndt's work ethic is one of his special gifts.
a long-term injury, an athlete will get really out of shape. But
Dave always had a bat and ball in his hand," Camillone said.
Under the supervision of Angebranndt's orthopedist and his physical
therapist, Charles Miller, Camillone devised a variety of therapeutic
exercises - everything from taking small balls and having Angebranndt
put them into a tall tube to regain small motor skills, to playing
catch in the training room, to exercising with a 20-lb. bolt cutter.
"With a different kid, you wouldn't have seen this kind of
progress. But he never stopped. He'd just drop and do ten."
Camillone notes that coming back from a serious injury entails physical,
mental and emotional rehabilitation. "Dave handled it all,"
she said, progressing well ahead of schedule in regaining his strength
and range of motion.
Angebranndt, sitting out the season was painful, but he found ways
to contribute. He went to every game, both home and away, and even
traveled with the team to Myrtle Beach early in the season when
his injury was still fresh. He called pitches and assisted the coaching
staff. He also worked with his replacement, catcher Russell Stupienski.
"Russ had to jump in. I passed on what I knew," Angebranndt
graduating from Mercer with an A.S. in Exercise Science, Angebranndt
made the move to Delaware. He faithfully continued his rehabilitation
and practiced regularly with the Blue Hens, serving as catcher for
the bull pen.
notes that from the beginning he was bolstered by the people around
him. "I have been supported 100 percent," he said, not
only by his parents, but also by staff and students at MCCC and
now by Coach Jim Sherman and others on the Delaware coaching staff,
as well as his current teammates.