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Kevin Czapelski

Short Hills, NJ

I am a huge New York Mets fan. I read about all the Tommy John surgeries around Major League baseball. I never thought a high school baseball player can blow out his elbow and have the surgery. That is exactly what happened to me. I realized that no matter how old a pitcher is, or what level of baseball he plays at, any player can have Tommy John. The road back from Tommy John surgery was long and challenging, but with the help of Dr. David Altchek, Keith Williamson, my physical therapist and everyone at Hospital for Special Surgery, I was able to come back and play baseball again.

I underwent the procedure to reconstruct my elbow after my freshman year in 2013. I had my surgery done by Dr. David Altchek, orthopedic surgeon in the Sports Medicine & Shoulder Service at Hospital for Special Surgery. He is also the Mets medical director. I went to the best Tommy John doctor in the world. After the procedure, I worked with a Mets physical therapist.

When Dr. Altchek told me I needed Tommy John surgery, I was shocked and devastated. I could not believe my elbow went. I did not know whether I was going to come back as a baseball player. However, Dr. Altchek assured me that with the surgery and hard work I would come back. Dr. Altchek and my PT told me that it was very important to take rehab slow and steady. Once rehab got underway for me, it went quite well thanks to them.

Thanks to Dr. Altchek and everyone associated with Hospital for Special Surgery, I bounced back quite well last year in my first season back on the mound since surgery. I ended up 10-2 with a 2.12 ERA. My control - one of the major issues a pitcher coming off Tommy John can face - was strong, and I was a workhorse as well with a team-leading 69 innings innings pitched. I also hit over .390. I was the winning pitcher in Millburn's 11-3 defeat of Williamstown High School in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Group 4 Tournament championship game. I was selected to the NJ All-State Team, Pitcher of the Year, All-Conference, All-MSG NJ Team and All-Group 4.

It was an amazing, a dream come true last year for me. I could not have done it without Dr. Altchek and everyone at Hospital for Special Surgery!!