THIS BLUE HEN IS ONE TOUGH BIRD
By DANIEL McINERNEY
The hallowed grounds that are the Gettysburg Battlefields have long stood as a reminder of the greatest conflict of the Civil War.
For Logan Shultz, a junior defensive lineman at the University of Delaware, they are a reminder of his potential career-ending accident and a three-year battle to return to the field.
On June 12, 2008 Logan Shultz put in his headphones and set out for a morning jog.
For the past few months this had been his routine. Working out three times a day to get his body ready for his freshman season, what happened next would erase the progress made after months of training in the gym.
As Shultz bent down to tie his shoe, his headphones blocked out the sound of a dump truck backing up. Within seconds Shultz’s legs and back were run over by the truck and his right arm was pinned between two of the truck’s rear wheels.
Unable to move, he watched in horror as the wheels neared his face. As the wheel began to roll over his face, Shultz pressed his legs against the tires and freed his arm.
It is safe to say that those hours in the gym had paid off.
The next few minutes were a blur Schultz said. He rolled out from under the truck, attempted to stand, but immediately collapsed. The next thing he remembers is being airlifted to York Hospital.
“I remember them putting me in the helicopter and saying, ‘Son you are going to a better place,’ and then I remember waking up from the coma,” Shultz recalled.
When he awoke from a medically-induced coma, Shultz was unable to talk or write, leaving him unable to communicate his thoughts to his family, friends and the team of doctors at his bedside.
From the moment he awoke he had a singular focus, to play football again.
“Football’s always been my world, been my life and it’s been what’s kept me going,” Shultz said. “Whenever I woke up the first thing that entered my mind was the football field, when I can get back on it and what do I need to do to get back on it.”
Doctors told him that he was lucky to be alive and could potentially walk again, but that was not enough for Shultz.
As he began to regain the ability to complete everyday tasks, Shultz continued to push himself. When the nerves in his right arm were not healing quickly enough, he opted for surgery to help decrease his recovery time.
Shultz said that the recovery was often frustrating and filled with obstacles, but it only made him work harder.
“You just keep finding a few little things each day that you work on to get better,” Shultz said. Whether it was writing a couple words or just any work, physically and mentally, that you could just strive to get better each and ever day.”
According to Shultz, he spent countless hours in physical therapy and the gym before finally being cleared to play.
He credits his recovery to his work ethic and passion for football and says that the accident has given him new found mental strength.
Whether he intended to or not, Shultz was having an impact on every coach and player on the Blue Hens team, a squad he had yet to play a single for.
Delaware receivers coach Brian Ginn. A former starting quarterback at Delaware, talked about what it was like for the team when Shultz defied all medical logic, his doctors and probably just about everyone he know when the 6-foot-3, 280 pounder walked onto the practice field, in uniform, ready to play.
“Logan’s situation is a great story of a young man persevering through extremely difficult situations,” said Ginn, who is entering his 14th season as a Delaware assistant coach. “The obstacles that Logan overcame are an inspiration to all of us involved in the program. From the first moment that he walked on campus, the guys instantly respected him because of everything he had been through. In my 19 years of playing and coaching college football it is the most remarkable comeback story I have personally seen. The entire Delaware football family is extremely proud of Logan and look forward to his continued contributions to the program.”
Besides his goal of returning to the field, Shultz said that his biggest motivational factor is the tattoo on his neck, which is the date of the accident in roman numerals.
“It drives me,” Shultz said of the tattoo. “Even when I am not in the weight room and I see it. I don’t want to say it reminds me because I will never forget, but it is very humbling to me.”
Last season Shultz started every game for Delaware and expects to do the same this year. His opponents will look to do something that even a dump truck could not do.
Stop Logan Shultz.
Al Thompson contributed to this story. Photos courtesy of the University of Delaware.
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