Three-Time Comeback

November 30, 2018

Rarely, if ever, do you see an athlete come back from three ACL tears and still compete at a high level. But that’s exactly what Creighton University men’s basketball player Martin Krampelj is planning on doing this season.

The most recent tear came during a game against Seton Hall University on Jan. 17 last season when Krampelj stepped awkwardly on teammate Kaleb Joseph’s right foot. Despite the devastation when the junior forward heard the news, it wasn’t able to dampen his determination to return. 

“When I got my MRI results, I was like, ‘I’m coming back,’” Krampelj told Fox Sports. “It’s so worth it.”

Krampelj’s first ACL tear resulted from a non-contact situation during a tournament in France in 2013. That time it was his left ACL. Then, early in the 2015-16 season, he tore his right ACL during practice when he got tangled up with a teammate. The fluke landing on Joseph’s foot last January marked the second tear to Krampelj’s left knee.

“There would be a lot of people giving it up after the first or second one,” Krampelj said. “I’m not a quitter. I’m not going to give up, and that’s it.”

Former Purdue University basketball player Robbie Hummel came back from two ACL tears in 2010 but isn’t sure he would have been able to do what Krampelj is attempting.

“It’s hard to continually put everything you have into something and to be consistently disappointed by it, especially with something that should be joyful,” Hummel said. “It’s fun to play college basketball, it’s fun to play a sport at a high level like that. When you keep getting let down in a way, it can be really, really frustrating and really hard. Respect to Martin for coming back again and again because it is a tough process.”

The process that Hummel is referring to can be long and painful, but ever since the injury, Krampelj has stayed positive and motivated toward his recovery. Creighton Head Athletic Trainer Ben McNair, ATC, believes that Krampelj’s upbeat attitude has helped him get through the difficult rehab. The medical staff at Creighton explained to Krampelj that athletes dealing with one or more ACL tears have a higher risk of re-injury and that getting back on the court will require a lot of hard work. But that hasn’t slowed him down.

“Martin is a full-speed-ahead kind of guy,” McNair said. “Usually, you have to pull the reins back on him rather than kick him in the butt.”

One of the most impressive parts of Krampelj’s comeback is that he has been able to maintain the athleticism that originally impressed Creighton and many other Division I programs. This season, if all goes according to plan, Creighton Head Coach Greg McDermott will be looking to him as a leader both on and off the court.

“To come back and be as athletic as he is, there is not one ounce of athleticism he’s lost during the process,” McDermott said. “In fact, it seems he’s come back stronger and with more authority in [what] he’s doing athletically. It’s a real credit to him and his work ethic that he’s back to the point he is.”


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