Hildebrand bounces back from knee injury

POULSBO — Instead of a Corvette, Ty Hildebrand got a ride on the trainer’s cart. Instead of a crown, he got crutches.

POULSBO — Instead of a Corvette, Ty Hildebrand got a ride on the trainer’s cart.

Instead of a crown, he got crutches.

And instead of a triumphant evening at the dance, he went home.

For Hildebrand, the NKHS tight end who was elected this year’s homecoming king, September 28 wasn’t much of a homecoming. But months after sustaining a serious knee injury in the first half of the homecoming game, Hildebrand has come back to make a mark on a second sport — track.

Hildebrand had been excited for the game against Gig Harbor. That morning he had been elected homecoming king, and during halftime, he would circle the track in the back of a Corvette, waving and hollering at the stands crowded with people.

“I was pretty jazzed up for it. I was ready,” Hildebrand said.

Hildebrand’s first play in the game began successfully as he caught a pass from and began charging upfield. But it took only a few steps, and a Gig Harbor defender, to end both the play and Hildebrand’s season. The defender dove into Hildebrand to prevent him from chugging towards the end zone, and landed at Hildebrand’s left knee.

But when Hildebrand’s knee popped, then grew numb, then wobbled as he first stood, he knew his night was over.

So was his football season.

The hit had torn Hildebrand’s left ACL. He had torn the meniscus around his knee. He had bone bruising — blood seeping into the bone — and tendon damage.

He watched the rest of the game on crutches, but was sent home before the dance.

“It was the homecoming game, but I didn’t get to ride in my Corvette,” Hildebrand said. “I could have worn my crown and everything.”

A ceremony was held the following morning to give Hildebrand his crown.

On Dec. 22, he had surgery to replace the ACL; he remembers the pre-surgery team writing “yes” on his left leg, the one that needed surgery, and “no” on the right.

The last half of the football season had already been erased by the injury; so was the basketball season, where Hildebrand had played backup power forward the previous season.

As his rehab began, he eyed track, instead.

“I wanted to come back for track,” he said, “but they said it wasn’t probable.”

Hildebrand began rehab soon after leaving surgery at Harrison Hospital.

A machine would bend his knee, stretching Hildebrand’s range of motion; the slightest motions made his leg throb with pain.

Two weeks after the surgery, the rehab continued with Ron Mimaki at Kitsap Physical Therapy in Poulsbo.

“It was tough,” said Hildebrand. “You couldn’t use muscles you normally would use to get out of bed.”

So Hildebrand started slow, raising his leg with no weight on it.

“It’s so painful, you just want to quit,” he said.

Mimaki said Hildebrand was diligent and positive about his workouts.

Mimaki said the only thing he had to caution the high-school senior about was not to push the workout too hard, something that can compromise the body while it’s still healing.

“The biggest challenge, especially for Ty, is to hold them back,” Mimaki said. “The pain is minimal, the range of motion is coming back; but you can only push mother nature so far.”

Hildebrand’s recovery went quickly, a recovery he praises both Mimaki and his surgeon for.

It went so well he made it back to the field for track.

Hildebrand has claimed first place in the shot put three times, and second once; he also grabbed second place in discus for the Bremerton dual meet. He is about one foot away from his personal best in last year’s shot put.

The rehab continues; Hildebrand has been working with the North Kitsap athletic training program to get stronger, and he is making progress every day.

“It’s been a long road,” Hildebrand said. “I’m just now getting confident.”

More in Sports

Jonas La Tour of North Kitsap was the league MVP last spring. File Photo
Winter prep sports previews

North Kitsap boys basketball; Kingston wrestling

With the strong winds, Viking quarterback Colton Bower (2) was more effective running the ball in the first half. Here Quinn Knivila- Ruchie (52) and Jesus Mares (53) block for him. Steve Powell/North Kitsap Herald photographs
Wind, rain, Lions knock NK out of playoffs

It’s hard enough to beat the second-ranked team in the state playoffs… Continue reading

Viking quarterback Colton Bower was named MVP, again, of the Olympic League. File Photo
Bower MVP, again; 11 others also honored

Gee, wonder who the Most Valuable Player is in the Olympic League… Continue reading

Logan Sloman catches a touchdown pass. Nancy Treder/File Photos
NK gridders advance to 2A state semifinals

North Kitsap High School is on its way to the state Class… Continue reading

Maddie Pryde is one of the standouts on the Viking team. File Photo
Anacortes knocks N. Kitsap girls out at state

North Kitsap’s girls volleyball team stunned Washington in three sets Friday in… Continue reading

Colton Bower. File Photo
N. Kitsap hosts state playoff game Saturday

14th seeded Shadle Park will face No. 3 seed Vikings

The North Kitsap boys basketball team celebrates after pulling off an improbable comeback in the semifinals in the 2A state tournament against Lynden. (File photo)
Krulish: A look back at my 4 years in Kitsap

After a little over four years covering high school sports, and occasionally… Continue reading

Colton Bower’s 299-yard, six touchdown performance on Friday night helped him break the North Kitsap record for passing yards in a season. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Bower sets NK passing record in win over Kingston

Colton Bower is one of the last players you’ll ever hear talking… Continue reading

North Kitsap’s Maddie Pryde tips a shot past two Bainbridge defenders. The Vikings defeated the Spartans on Tuesday night to split their season series and share the top spot in the Olympic League. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
NK beats BHS to share top spot in Olympic League

The North Kitsap volleyball team never forgot about its first loss of… Continue reading

Review file photo 
The Bainbridge HS girls cross country team, shown here taking off during a league meet at Battle Point Park, took home the Olympic League championship last week.
Spartan girls XC win Olympic League title

The Spartans girls cross country team cooked up the same recipe for… Continue reading

Olympic’s Joshua Gauyan evades the defense of Port Angeles’ Jeremiah Hall on Friday night in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Olympic Peninsula News Group)
Prep Football: Week 8 roundup

Sequim 33, Kingston 20 The Bucs opened the game with a successful… Continue reading

Central Kitsap running back Kouper Hall went over 1,000 rushing yards for the season against North Thurston on Friday night. He had 304 yards and four touchdowns in the 61-7 win. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Central Kitsap’s big win over North Thurston helps push for playoffs

The Central Kitsap High football team had a whole lot of time… Continue reading