Rapid Rehab of Torn Achilles Enables Jamieson's Quick Start
The new National Lacrosse League season began seven months after Cody Jamieson underwent surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon in his right foot and, with 25 points in three games, he leads the league in scoring points.
So, Cody, was some kind of miracle rehab involved?
"Yea, it's a secret," he replies with a smile.
It was last May 16 that Jamieson limped off the Blue Cross Arena floor in Rochester in the first quarter of the opening game of the Eastern Division final. He did not return. The Knighthawks hung on to win by a goal without their leading scorer. A few days later, the team confirmed that No. 88 was out for the remainder of the playoffs.
Late on May 23, Jamieson left Toronto's Air Canada Centre on crutches after the Rock eliminated the Knighthawks. He swore that night that he would do everything in his power to rehab quickly so he would be ready for the 2016 campaign.
Surgery was on May 27. His summer season with the Canadian-champion Six Nations Chiefs was gone, as was a chance to help the Iroquois Nationals try for the world indoor championship in Syracuse, N.Y., where as an NCAA player he had scored the winning overtime goal to give the Orange the Division I championship six years earlier.
Most doctors explain that it takes at least six months for normal motion and strength to return after surgery on a torn Achilles. For an athlete involved in a body-contact sport such as lacrosse, it usually takes longer than that. There are then weeks to regain the confidence it takes to make the quick directional changes in game situations.
But Jamieson was cleared to play at the start of December, participated in training camp drills, and here he is with an NLL-best 25 points — seven goals and 18 assists — in three games. He piled up 18 points in Week Three's 12-7 and 12-5 wins over the Toronto Rock that lifted the Knighthawks, 2-1, into a tie for first place in the East.
"I knew five minutes after I got hurt that I didn't want to miss any Knighthawks time," he says. "It killed me not being able to play at the end of last season.
"Any other injury and I would have played through it. My teammates know I've played through a lot of injuries before but that one I just couldn't. But I knew I was going to do my best to get back and be better."
The impressive return of the 2014 league MVP was possible because of the work he put into regaining so quickly what he'd lost. In doing that, he received not only the help of his NLL team's trainers but also help from Sports Specific Training in Hamilton, which is not far from his Six Nations home.
SST owner Steve Bodanis, the strength and conditioning coach of the Canadian Football League's Hamilton Tiger-Cats, has worked with many pro athletes. He's worked on and off Jamieson for the last 10 years.
It helped that the surgery was clean. Doctors did a good job, says Bodanis. Jamieson was basically immobile for months. Foot and ankle strengthening began at the end of September with sessions five days a week.
"We built up the intensity each week," says Bodanis. "Cody was focused on coming back. He was driven. He has changed his body composition. He's now carrying less body fat and has more muscle. He has been 100 percent committed. He wants to be better than he was before. We talked about him coming back and leading the league in scoring and winning the championship."
"Lacrosse was my first love. Anybody old enough to understand that knows how much I love to play the game. It was a long summer without it," Cody Jamieson says about the torn Achilles that required surgery and forced him to rehab all summer and fall.
The hard work in the gym has paid off.
"This is the lightest I've been in years, probably since I joined the league," says the five-foot-nine lefty, whose weight is listed on his team's website as 216 pounds including considerable muscle. "I don't remember being this light.
"I owe that all to my trainers. The offseason, I had to take things seriously and really buckle down. SST did a great job. I'm still going there. They're still pushing me.
"Lacrosse was my first love. Anybody old enough to understand that knows how much I love to play the game. I missed playing. It was a long summer without it. I'm glad to be back."
Dan Dawson is glad he's back, too.
"It's inspiring," says Dawson. "You talk about a devastating injury, for him to have worked so hard off the floor and to come back into the lineup this way, it's really inspiring our whole room.
"It's a testament to how much he cares about playing this game and being part of this team. He was quiet about his rehab and his return. He said he'd be ready for the regular season and a lot of people were questioning that but, I'll tell you, he's turned a lot of heads."
"He's a competitor and a gamer," says goaltender Matt Vinc. "I've seen him carry us on his shoulders in clutch moments since he got here. Whenever he's in the lineup, it's a huge confidence-booster for our whole team because a lot of the offense runs through him. He's a great player."
Losing the East final in Toronto ended a three-year Knighthawks championship reign and the players are determined to regain the Champion's Cup.
"We want to hoist that trophy at the end of the year," says Vinc.
Two decisive victories over the team that took them out last spring is a big first step.
"There are places where we can be better," Jamieson said after last Thursday's win in Toronto. "We gave up too many fast breaks. As an offense, we usually don't do that. We take pride in shutting down the other team's transition. Our power play wasn't the strongest. Our penalty killing wasn't its best. So, there are areas we can improve on. The goal is to get better every game of the season."
Vinc certainly got better after the team's home opener loss to Colorado.
"He's our backbone," says Jamieson. "He's been the MVP of our team for a long time. We all had faith in him to bounce back. He's the best goalie in the world for a reason. We're happy he's on our team."
Being around Jamieson is an eye-opener for Rochester rookie Derek Searle.
"Cody is something else," he says. "He's the best there is and he proves it night in and night out."
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