MATOACA – Serious injuries are a part of sports, a pivotal part of any player’s career who suffers one. Countless athletes with loads of talent have had their careers cut short by them, but countless others have come back- in some cases stronger to prevail. It would appear that Matoaca High senior Devorian Dandridge is on his way to doing the latter, qualifying for states in the long jump with a leap of 22 ft. 6.25 in. at the Christopher Newport Winter Frolic in December after severely breaking his leg two years ago.
“I never thought I would be able to come back and run like I used to,” said Dandridge. “It was depressing.”
Two years ago in a polar bear meet in Dinwiddie, Dandridge jumped too far and too high on the first phase of his triple jump. Upon landing with his momentum moving forward, his leg crumpled, breaking his femur in four places. A metal rod was inserted into his leg, held in place by pins. After a second surgery to remove the rod and total of seven months on crutches, Dandridge was able to start to rehab to make a comeback.
“It’s a mental battle to return from an injury like that,” said Matoaca Track Head Coach Charles Bailey. “Especially when that’s the leg you’re jumping with, it’s about how you rehab and it’s about how to mentally prepare yourself.”
This leg break came after Dandridge burst onto the scene as a freshman, taking part in a star-studded 4 x 200 team with Jamarian Bates, Sam Gunther and Andre Moore that qualified nationally with a time of 1:32.99.
“It was a reality check,” explained Dandridge. “I had a successful freshman year and then that happened.”
As a freshman, Dandridge was considered a college prospect, as Bates (Norfolk State) and Gunther (Bridgewater) run track collegially while Moore plays baseball for Norfolk State. Post injury, the college interest isn’t back yet for the senior, who needs to prove himself after the grisly injury.
The Warrior’s long jump performance was a great step in the right direction, and Dandridge also revisited the triple jump this past weekend at the Suffolk Stars Invitational in Hampton, Va. and jumped 39 feet. While this was good for just 19th place, it was the first time he performed in the event since the injury- another big step.
“I was nervous and scared,” said Dandridge. “I was hoping something like that didn’t happen again, but I have to give every meet my all.”
Bailey believes that once Dandridge is back and in full shape, that his times and jumps will improve, and the colleges will come back.
“Right now it’s just one step at a time,” said Bailey, a second year head coach and Matoaca alum. “I think he’s handled this very well.”
Academics will be no issue for the senior once his track performance ticks up again as he sports a 3.72 GPA and plans to be a pediatrician.
“I believe everything happens for a reason,” said Dandridge. “God is the one who brought me back to the track.”
Dandridge also had great support through the injury and rehab with parents Brian and Norrissa, along with life-long friend Alexandra Moseley who runs track for Cosby.
“She’s [Moseley] been my rock through this whole thing,” Dandridge said.
Dandridge is a leader on a young Matoaca track squad this season that’s looking to push for a strong performance in the Conference 12 championship at the Arthur Ashe Center February 7-8. Follow along for standouts and results on twitter @VNewsSports.