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No Quit in Reilly

Brendan Reilly simply has no quit in him.

Eight months ago Brendan Reilly was laying in a hospital bed. He didn’t know exactly when he would step onto a soccer field next-he just knew that he would and nothing was going to stop him. Period.

On Feb.24, Reilly, a junior at Kenmore West High School, suffered a devastating leg injury during an indoor soccer game.

Reilly was bringing the ball up field when he was the victim of a double slide tackle from players who came at him-one from behind, the other from the front.

Reilly sustained a fractured tibia and fibula bones in his left leg as a result of the collision.

Reilly had surgery on March 6 to repair the extensive damage. A metal plate and eight screws were inserted into Reilly’s leg.

Reilly’s doctor said it would likely take a full year away from soccer before Brendan would feel 100 percent back to normal.

Though he didn’t enter into his decision lightly Reilly said a year off from the game he loves simply was not an option.

“I feel like I already missed all of my travel season so I didn’t want to miss a full year of high school soccer too,” Reilly said. “I just wanted to come out and support the team and at least try to play and do whatever I could do.”

Since the surgery there has been a seemingly endless road to recovery. A road fraught with one pothole after another.

From an unexplained purple discoloration in his feet to swelling and residual soreness in his leg Reilly’s recovery has seemingly been a case of one step forward, two steps back.

“It’s been really frustrating because every time you feel good the next day it could go all the way back to the beginning (of rehab),” Reilly said. “And it’s just like you never know if it’s the bone hurting or if you’re getting injured and you have to work through it. Because it’s kind of difficult to think about and try to think it’s gonna be better soon when it never seems to be getting better.”

Reilly spent the bulk of the spring in a walking boot and on crutches. By the time summer arrived Brendan had ditched both and was finally able to get down to some serious training and preparing for the 2019 high school season.

But Brendan didn’t go through the journey alone as his younger sister, Jane, was by his side the whole time.

Jane, a freshman at Kenmore East, was also planning on going out for soccer.

Whether it was running or playing soccer together at Crosby Field, in his baby sister Brendan found the perfect workout partner.

A partner who would not only support and encourage him but also push him to work his hardest.

“It was really nice,” Reilly said with a smile. “We’d go on runs together for a mile or two because she had to get ready too.”

When the calendar flipped to August, Brendan was ready to go for tryouts.

Reilly battled with all he had through every drill as he dealt with the constant worry of the possibility his loss of speed could cost him a roster spot.

Reilly cleared the hurdle and made varsity on his own merit of play. No gifts from the coach.

Unlike most rehabilitation situations where you eventually get to that consistent level of progress, Brendan Reilly has to contend with the challenge of a yo-yo recovery where he never really knows what each day will bring.

“Yeah definitely,” Reilly said. “Before the season it would finally start to get better, then it would swell up again and get worse.”

In recent weeks Reilly has experienced swelling in his calf. Doctor check ups have revealed the possibility of additional surgery in the coming months.

Blue Devils coach Todd Marquardt said while he has admired Brendan’s hard work and never say die attitude what has impressed him the most is the way Brendan has carried himself throughout this whole experience. While most kids might say ‘why me?’, complain or be disruptive/negative force within the team circle, Reilly has instead been the definition of a good teammate.

“He’s not a quitter. He’s a gamer,” Marquardt said. “And I just love a kid for being a supportive player. He’s a great teammate for kids who are participating for 80 minutes, 60 minutes.”

Reilly said he can’t thank coach Marquardt enough. From making sure he got a few minutes of playing time during the East-West game to being genuinely concerned about his well being Reilly said he knew his coach was in his corner.

“I got him in for like seven minutes and he came over and shook my hand and said thank you,” Marquardt said.

Reilly said so many of his teammates were there for him as he fought to get back. So it’s only right to repay their kindness by being the best teammate he can be.

“Throughout the summer people on this team like Jason Diaz, Dom Argenio, Mike Vullo reached out to me. They would go to Crosby with me too,” Reilly said.

Brendan Reilly has done more than refuse to give up. In an era when kids his age are constantly criticized for being self-absorbed and lacking mental toughness he showed his worth through a rare mixture of courage and character. The kind of worth you just can’t slap a price tag on.

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