Chase Campbell was the recipient of some rather unusual looks at school last year. Mainly because his right shoulder appeared to be mangled — and possibly broken.
"They were really staring at me," Campbell said of his classmates.
Turns out, Campbell's shoulder was broken. Tahlequah's defensive end injured it at practice before school last season.
"We were out practicing one day on kickoffs, and when I hit, I bounced off of one of my teammates and landed directly on my shoulder into the ground," Campbell said. "Whenever they lifted me up, my shoulder was about two feet down from where it should be."
Somehow, he managed to shrug — well, perhaps ignore — the pain and go to school. But eventually the pain became too much for Campbell to bare.
"I didn't really feel it," he said. "I went to school for about half the day. After I got out of shock, I went straight to the hospital because I couldn't really take it [anymore]."
Campbell's right shoulder was placed in a cast, and he was in it for more than two months. Yet, he managed to preserver and log time for the Tigers last season.
"He played all of last year injured," Tahlequah head coach Brad Gilbert said. "He played through that and that shows his commitment level. It shows his dedication to the program and his teammates."
Also a dedicated grappler, Campbell had to miss wrestling season in 2012-2013 because of his shoulder injury. And still to this day, he's still trying to restrengthen his shoulder.
"I'm still going through (the rehab process)," said Campbell, a 5-foot-11, 177-pound soon-to-be junior lineman.
"It's tough but I just have to fight through it. I just have to push through some days."
At times, the pain is front and center in Campbell's mind. But when he's on the field, it seems to fade from his conscience.
"Every now and then before a play, I sometimes think about it," Campbell said. "But I have to remind myself not to think about it. If you play scared, you get hurt. I learned that from my dad."
In 2013, Gilbert expects Campbell to have a sizable impact on the Tigers' defense.
"He started 10 games last year, so his experience should add a lot to this team," Gilbert said. "He is undersized at defensive end, but he plays with tenacity and determination. It's one of those spots we don't have to worry about. We will ask him to play a little defensive tackle, too.
"We're banking on him being a cornerstone piece to the defense."