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Turlock High School Athlete Makes Incredible Comeback after Knee Injury

Jun 14, 2018

Bryce Souza running on the trackTurlock, Calif. – A student-athlete at Turlock High School made an incredible comeback following a severe knee injury that nearly kept him from his passion of playing sports and staying active.

In early 2017, Bryce Souza, 18, of Turlock was injured while playing in a volleyball game. It was a game he wasn’t even supposed to play in.

“I was asked to fill in for another player who couldn’t make it and I thought, ‘Why not?’” Souza explained. “During the game, I dove for the ball and landed on my knee. I tried to stand up but couldn’t even straighten my knee.”

Souza was transported to the Emergency Department at Emanuel Medical Center and had numerous scans done to see just how bad the damage was.

“Bryce suffered a nasty knee cap fracture requiring complex fixation,” explained Dr. Patrick Guerrero, Orthopedic Surgeon at Emanuel Medical Center. “He was extremely bummed after seeing the X-rays, thinking his high school athletic career was over.”

“When they pulled up the scans, his knee looked like a firework had went off,” said Patty Hendrix, Souza’s mother.

After Dr. Guerrero performed surgery on his knee, Souza started grueling physical therapy and the recovery phase began.

“After my surgery, I had to stay off my leg for six weeks. My muscles were just not the same and therapy was really tough,” Souza explained. “When basketball season rolled around, I went to open gym to practice. When I ran, I had a super bad limp and I was favoring my good leg over my injured leg. I quit shortly after because I didn’t feel like I would be useful to the team.”

Still wanting to succeed as an athlete, Souza went straight into the track room and started getting used to running again. He had the goal of running on the track team in the spring constantly on his mind.

“I really pushed myself mentally. I knew I could do it, I just couldn’t think about it,” he said. “My knee would hurt, but I just dealt with it and kept pushing myself.”

Fast forward to this spring. Souza’s hard work started to truly pay off when he joined the track team as a first-year runner. He started as a high jumper and also ran the 100 and 200 meter sprints. When coaches and team members noticed his amazing improvement and speed, he was recruited to the 4x100 meter relay team when a spot opened up. The relay team started breaking record after record, with Souza as the anchor of the team, which is typically the fastest member of the team. Throughout the season, the relay team broke eight school records, won the section finals and qualified for the state tournament. An incredible fete for an athlete who wasn’t sure he would be able to run again.

Bryce Souza in the woods“When we were waiting for the race to start [at state], I was thinking, ‘Wow, I am not supposed to be here right now,” Souza expressed. “I was just looking around at everyone else. No one else had this scar that I have. No one else went through this journey that I did to get here.”

“We are forever grateful to Dr. Guerrero. The surgery he performed was a miracle,” Hendrix expressed. “We cannot thank him enough for what he did for my son. This whole journey has been amazing and I could not be more proud of Bryce.”

The 4x100 meter relay team, with Souza as the anchor, placed eleventh at the state tournament.

“I received amazing support from my coaches, teammates, family and friends. Without them, there would be no records or anything. They were always there to bring me up when I was down and they also pushed me like no one else,” Souza said. “I guess you could say I lucked out with these people by my side.”

Souza plans to attend Modesto Junior College in the fall and run on the school’s track team.

From that fateful volleyball game to his knee surgery at Emanuel Medical Center to his success at the state track tournament – which fell on the same day as his high school graduation – you could say everything happens for a reason. We have no doubt whatever Souza puts his mind to, he will accomplish and succeed.