Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

June 16, 2012

Renfrow rebounding from surgery

James Renfrow hoisted his left arm and revealed a surgical scar under his left elbow.

“Tommy John surgery,” Renfrow said.

From across the room, Renfrow was questioned: “You play baseball?”

“No,” Renfrow said, cracking a wry grin. “Football. Better yet, I’m right-handed.”

A 2010 Broken Arrow High School product, Renfrow is rebounding from the corrective surgery – best known to be performed on pitchers – six months ago.

“December 16th,” he said.

Renfrow suffered the injury in the first quarter of Northeastern State University’s game against Arkansas-Monticello Oct. 22, the seventh game of the season.

“I put my left arm out when I fell,” he said. “Geez, it really hurt. Glad it was early in the game.”

Renfrow returned in the second half with his left arm taped from his wrist to the shoulder. He played four more games with a protective brace.

Others likely would have watched the rest of the games in street clothes. Not Renfrow.

“I wanted to play, no matter how bad it hurt,” he said. “Believe me, I was in a lot of pain.”

He could have had surgery in November, which would have hastened his recovery. But when NSU was invited to the Mineral Water Bowl the first weekend of December, Renfrow said the choice was easy.

“I wasn’t going to miss that,” he said. “We’ve worked so hard as a team to get where we are, I knew I could play with the pain one more game.”

NSU defensive ends coach Greg Richmond hailed Renfrow’s determination.

“James is tough, mentally and physically,” Richmond said. “He sacrificed himself for the team last year. That is a testament to his character.”

Renfrow was kept out of spring practices and fretted he’d be forgotten by NSU coaches. A conversation with Richmond eased his mind.

“Coach Richmond told me ‘You aren’t getting back on the field until you’re healthy,’” Renfrow said. “That made me feel better.”

“That’s a natural reaction for an athlete,” Richmond said. “I told James ‘We know what you can do.’ He didn’t need to worry."

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