MA’s Drew Swedberg, shown here in action last winter against Inter-Lakes, was scheduled to return to action this week after missing the first two months of the season with a broken foot. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
February 04, 2013MOULTONBOROUGH – Drew Swedberg still remembers the feeling.
"Just devastated," he recalls.
Nearly two months to the day his worst nightmare was imagined, the Moultonborough Academy senior point guard was back preparing to play the game he loves this week. After breaking three bones in his foot during a preseason scrimmage with Berlin in late November, Swedberg hopes to make a difference for the Panthers as the regular season comes down the home stretch. The only returning starter from last year's Division IV state championship team, Swedberg wants a shot at leading MA back to the postseason.
"This whole season has kind of been (MA's) way of preparing for next year with all the young guys stepping up and playing big minutes," Swedberg explained. "I just want to go in and facilitate that. Whether that means passing, scoring, whatever…I just want to come in and contribute. I've been around basketball all of my life so to get the opportunity to play the last few games of my senior year is awesome."
It almost didn't happen however.
In that preseason scrimmage with Berlin, Swedberg went up for a shot like he had thousands of times before. While in the air, he decided to pass to an open teammate, but when he landed on his foot, he felt an immediate pain.
"It was just an instant pain," he recalled. "I felt my foot kind of fold. I had hyper extended a tendon in my big toe during soccer and missed a few games. But I knew right away that this was a different feeling."
Swedberg went immediately to get his foot checked out, and the initial diagnosis later that night served as a crushing blow: out for 3-4 months, season over.
But a day later, down at Concord Orthopedics, Swedberg was given some light at the end of his tunnel. The new diagnosis was for 6-8 weeks, with physical therapy hopefully getting him back for the last few games of the regular season around Feb. 1.
"That made me feel better but I was still confused which one it was going to be," he said. "But as soon as I heard PT, I thought I can definitely get myself back. If I can control that part of it, I'll be ready."
Those first few weeks were difficult, as Swedberg wore a hard cast for two weeks that required the use of crutches and a wheelchair. After the cast was removed to make sure the bone was healing correctly, another hard cast was put on for three weeks. That was followed by an air cast for three more weeks, and he was finally able to get back to practicing this past weekend.
Despite how difficult the whole ordeal has been physically, watching his team play from the bench may have been the toughest part of all. While Swedberg was a vocal presence during games and practices, the fact that he couldn't get on the floor and contribute really ate away at him.
"The first game was definitely the toughest," he said. "I've started all three years so when they call out the names for the starting lineup and I'm not out there…it wasn't so much a jealous feeling but just a weird feeling."
One aspect of the injury that made Swedberg a little uncomfortable was all the preseason attention being placed on his situation. Since he was expected to be one of the top returning players in Division IV, media publications were all over the story.
"I don't know how I felt about being talked about like that," he admitted. "It was flattering that people paid attention but I wanted to be able to carve my own story this season. I didn't want an injury to define my senior year."
Swedberg did hear from many of the top players in Division IV after he was injured, and hearing from competitors he's gone up against since his freshman year from around the state was a nice feeling amidst all the despair.
"It was good to hear from people like that," he said. "But then you go out and play against those teams and I'm not able to go cover them and play against them. That might've been the hardest part…just visualizing yourself out there but then not being able to actually do it."
In Swedberg's absence, MA entered this week's game with a record of 4-8. Younger brother Riley, a sophomore, assumed the point guard duties while Drew was out of commission.
"They've definitely had those ups and downs," Drew admitted. "They didn't want to be written off just because I wasn't playing. They dug down and found something within themselves to compete with a lot of these teams. They weren't winning all of them but just the fact that they've been competing as such a young team has been impressive."
As for the rest of the season and (hopefully) a playoff run, Swedberg knows a third consecutive run to the Final Four may be a tall order. He's just hoping to make some noise around the D-IV landscape.
"To lose just two games total the last two years, I'm not used to losing," he said. "I'm sure people are aware that I'm coming back and it'll be interesting to see what happens from here on out. Just keeping a positive attitude during this whole process has been important and I think that'll help me keep going here."
Swedberg had aimed to return to the lineup earlier this week after deadline against either Mascoma Valley or Concord Christian. The Panthers next travel to Portsmouth Christian on Feb. 8 before final games with Profile, Newmarket and Nute. The Division IV tournament begins on Feb. 26.