CAMANCHE – Chase Grim remembers doctors revealing the grave implications of an MRI test. Twice. He will not soon forget physical therapy, where he completed a series of sweat-inducing workouts. Twice.
Most of all, Grim, a multi-sport athlete at Camanche High School, remembers the sidelines. Grim tore his anterior-cruciate ligament (ACL) in his knee two times within a 12-month span, forcing the senior to watch as his teammates took the field, court or diamond in Indians' blue and red.
He could have stayed there, too. On the sidelines. It would have been easy for Grim to succumb to self-pity, wallowing in the depths of a journey he did not do anything to deserve besides play the sports he loves.
Instead, he battled. He conquered the grueling exercises at Rock Valley Physical Therapy. He went to gym in his personal time in efforts of regaining strength. He kept the faith, even when his body told a different story.
Grim's improbable return came full-circle last weekend, where he served as a valuable piece of the Indians' 11-event fleet at the state track and field meet. He competed in all four of the team's relays, earning medals in the sprint medley (fifth) and distance medley (eighth).
Prior to the meet, which was hosted by Drake University in Des Moines, Grim said he had yet to soak in the gravity of achieving his ultimate goal, which was not only to compete again, but to do so at a high level. Check, and check.
"It's pretty bittersweet and it really hasn't set in yet," Grim said. "It hasn't really hit me yet, but I think it will happen in the summer when I'll look back at everything that I've gone through and be proud of myself. But for now I have to focus and get out there and get it done."
Naturally, Grim was not interested in patting himself on the back. With CHS' graduation looming on Sunday, maybe he will soon. He certainly deserves it.
"It [sitting out of competition] sucked," Grim said. "When you win, you want to be a part of those good times and feel like you contributed and when you lose, you feel like if you were out there, maybe you could have made a difference."
Grim's first setback came during the second game of the 2018 football season. His nine carries in the opener were tops on the team from those not named Baylor Crigger, and he added 4.5 tackles on defense. In other words, he was expected to be a critical piece of the program's turnaround from a perennial one-win team to the verge of the playoffs.
Then it happened. Week 2 against Monticello. At first, Grim did not realize the extent of the injury, brushing it off as a stinger that would soon heal. But the pain never went away.
"I didn't go to the doctor until a month later because I was trying to tough it out," he said, "I got a small brace at the store and it still wasn't getting better so I was talking to my dad about getting it checked just to make sure. We went down there, had an MRI, and it was the ACL."
After the diagnosis, Grim eventually made a full recovery. He was gearing up for the Indians' shining basketball season last summer, and, inexplicably, it happened again. Similar to the first time, he didn't immediately suspect the worse. But, sure enough.
"Then apart from therapy, you have to do stuff on your own time, like stay in the weight room all the time," Grim said. "Sometimes I would be doing two or three workouts a day for the past year and a half and now, especially."
While his college plans are unclear, Grim will walk the stage at Camanche on Sunday, free of a walking boot, crutches or anything else to aid his steps.
Against all odds, he did it. Twice.