Jacob Hendershot overcame multiple serious injuries at only 18 years of age
There is nothing easy about growing up.
In many ways, being youthful is akin to feeling invincible. Strength is added quicker than ever and that power can be insatiable.
Until something happens that takes it all away.
Jacob Hendershot understands that sentiment better than most.
“I’m 18 now and a senior in high school, wrestling my final season as a 220-pound captain,” he said. “But during my junior year, I had to wrestle at both 220-pounds and heavyweight with the limit being capped at 285 pounds. During a match in January, I was sent out to wrestle heavyweight and won, but I felt my back give out during it.”
Jacob thought it was just a pulled muscle or something similar. So he applied the normal treatment of constant ice, heat, stim and stretching. With those therapies, he continued to excel throughout his junior season all the way into the regional tournament.
“I wrestled my first match, the pre-quarterfinal bout, and found myself in a tough contest – constantly fighting for position while my back began to tire out,” Jacob recalled. “By the second period, I took bottom on referees stance and attempted a stand up. I hear the pop from inside my lower back as I stood up, pain shooting down my legs and lower back. I fell back down to the mat but found a way to stand back up. One more time. I escaped and tied the match, bringing it into double overtime. I could barely stay in my stance, every step felt like a searing pain as I held in my tears, not letting my opponent beat me as I quickly sprawled on him, earning my last two points as the referee called the match.”
Jacob won… but he also lost. As his hand was raised, he nearly collapsed before his coaches carried him across the gym while the pain quickly intensified.
Couldn’t walk. Couldn’t wrestle.
“I was told my lower back, the L4 and L5 vertebrae had suffered a stress reaction during my match in January, but the muscles around my back acted like cement covering rebar – protecting it and allowing my body to function until it couldn’t take it any longer,” Jacob stated. “It took two months for my body to heal properly before I could even attempt a squat, but I persevered. By April, I was back in the gym as usual, lifting for hours on end, trying to regain what I had lost since my back’s incident.”
On a particularly tough point during the grind back to form, Jacob’s father (who is also his wrestling coach) gave him a package. Jacob opened it up, and it had one word sprawled across the front.
“Overcome,” he said. “I knew about APEMAN for a couple of years and even wore the ‘LIFT ANGRY’ and ‘POWERED BY RAGE’ shirts. But this shirt spoke to me. Made a difference. It became my motto. Little did I know I’d have to overcome even more.”
Just a few months after injuring his back, Jacob was wrestling in a summer tournament at heavyweight. He took bottom in the second period, stood up, but his opponent took him back down – grabbing his arm in an awkward manner as they hit the mat.
“My left arm bent inwards, hearing a sickening popping noise as I quickly grabbed my elbow, now back in place as my father and other coaches ran over to me.” Jacob said. “We didn’t know what it was, but I wanted to keep wrestling. The trainer stopped me, telling me to wait and see how it felt. Thank God he did, because in a few hours my arm swelled to twice its size, a large bruise forming at the inside of my elbow as it became stiff.”
Jacob couldn’t move his arm.
He went to the doctor and found out he not only tore his tricep, but partially tore his Ulnar Collateral Ligament right in the crest of his arm. The doctor said Jacob could potentially miss his senior football and wrestling seasons due to the severity of the injury and subsequent rehabilitation.
“My only chance to play laid in a dual hinge brace that looked as uncomfortable as it was,” he said. “So I took it and began to make my comeback – with physical therapy, lifting and plenty of cardio. I had missed two months of football practices in the summer and needed to get back fast.”
On his first day back, Jacob re-claimed his position as a long snapper and defensive tackle using his new brace as a weapon of mass destruction en route to an 8-2 season. Jacob made the All-Conference team as a defensive lineman.
“My doctor said that my return to play should have taken eight months to heal for a regular person,” Jacob said. “Mine only took two. What he didn’t know was that I was lifting, stretching and training every morning, pushing myself to my limit as my arm began to heal.”
Jacob credits APEMAN with being a driving force in his recovery.
“Every shirt is made with a purpose – to defy, inspire, and to show that nothing can hold you down,” Jacob said with determination. “’OVERCOME,’ ‘SCARS’ and ‘BRUTALITY BUILDS STRENGTH’ are a few of the shirts I wear proudly. Every time I put those shirts on, I know I’m one of many who have been given a second chance and chose to continue walking down a lonely path of self-righteousness and virtue. I know I will reap my benefits.
“I know I will keep fighting.”