Serious Injury Sidelines Hockey Captain

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by Adam Colbert

Senior Dan Borella suffered an injury over the summer that threatened to end his senior season. Hockey is Dan’s only sport that he plays in high school, and he’s been learning to skate and play since age two. He’s been competing with a year-round team for the past ten years. Hockey is Dan’s life.

Borella plays forward for Hudson varsity hockey
Borella plays forward for the Hudson varsity hockey team.

On July 13, 2013, the summer before his senior year, Dan was playing on a summer hockey team called the New England Renegades. Borella was hit during a game, knocked unconscious and then fell to the ground. This is when another player accidentally skated on Borella’s arm. Blood started gushing out of his arm, and his coach ran out onto the rink. He was then rushed to the door of the rink and went straight to the emergency room.

Borella suffered a lacerated right wrist with severed nerves and tendons. He lost nearly all feeling in his hand and wore a splint for two months. After that, his hand was stiff, making it hard for him to move it. Blood flow to the hand is slow, so Borella wears a glove to keep his hand warm. Without the glove, his hand would get cold without him knowing it.

A week after Borella's surgery
This shows Borella’s arm a week after surgery.

The best case scenario for Borella was to get back to 100% in five months and be ready for hockey season. Slowly he realized he would not reach that goal because his hand was not getting any feeling after hockey season started. The second best scenario was a possible return in January, still enough time to return to the team. But then January came.

This put the worst case scenario into the conversation: no feeling in his hand and little motion for the rest of his life. After six months, it is starting to move better. He has been doing physical therapy two times a week since August which involves stretching and squeezing things to make his hand stronger.

“It’s rough to deal with. I’m just trying to fight it and deal with it. It could’ve been worse,” says Borella. In school, he had to switch to his left hand to write. It was difficult for him to keep up with notes and get through assignments quickly. He also had to stay away from driving for two months and still has a hard time picking heavy things up. Borella also has to deal with the emotional side of the injury.

Arm as of January 31, 2014, seven months after surgery
This shows his arm as of January 31, 2014, seven months after surgery.

“It’s made me stronger and made me think about how fortunate I am.” He could’ve bled to death or lost an arm if the skate landed in a different way.

“[It has] made him a more calm person. He now looks at the bigger picture. He almost died, so he looks at things differently now,” says Borella’s girlfriend Bryana Cox.

The team has really missed Borella’s presence on the ice during games. Last year he scored 14 goals and 16 assists while the team went 7-9-4. This year, the team has only been able to post a 2-9-3 record.

“I know if I was on the ice it would be so different,” Borella says. Borella brings speed and energy when he’s on the ice.

This year, Borella is there to support the team during games and practices with them. He does whatever he can in practice to help the team.

“He’s a lot more of a vocal leader because he can’t be on ice. He encourages us with compliments,” says teammate Tyler Casey. “He’s a playmaker and always gives good advice.”

Casey feels Borella’s pain because Casey shattered his scaphoid bone(wrist) into three pieces over the summer, which caused him to miss football season. “We talked about how badly we wanted to get back on the ice. He was saying how he wanted to return for senior year and be captain,” says Casey.

“He was always around the team even when he couldn’t play,” says hockey coach Mike Nanartowich. Borella was there when the team took the trip to Lake Placid in the beginning of the season. “We’re there for him, and we are going to keep him a part of the team,” says Nanartowich.

Borella is continuing to work hard every day to get cleared and return to his passion. “You can tell he’s excited to get back out there. He really misses playing,” says Casey.