Cole Weaver (Photo/Sam Janicki, SJanickiPhoto.com)
You can't keep a good man down. Especially if he's a wrestler.
Cole Weaver, Indiana University wrestler who has endured multiple major injuries over the past three years, has been named a recipient of the 2019 Thomas A. Brady, M.D. Comeback Award.
The 141-pound Hoosier senior has endured a series of serious injuries going back to 2016 which have sidelined Weaver's wrestling career from time to time ... yet through it all, the Michigan native has maintained a positive attitude.
Back in January 2016, Weaver's face collided with an opponent's knee ... resulting in an orbital floor fracture below his left eye which required surgery. "They pulled my eyelid down and put a plate under it," Weaver told WTHR-TV, the NBC affiliate in Indianapolis.
One side effect of that injury: Weaver was still experiencing double vision months later. He decided to consult with his doctor back home in Hudson, Michigan when he was involved in a three-vehicle crash on U.S. 20 in northwestern Ohio, about a half hour from home.
Weaver's injuries were so serious -- including a broken right femur -- he was flown by helicopter to a Toledo hospital. A titanium rod was inserted from his hip to his knee. Weaver needed several months of rehabilitation before he could walk again. His right leg is now a half-inch longer than his left ... yet he was able to return to wrestling less than six months after the wreck.
IU head wrestling coach Angel Escobedo put the seriousness of Weaver's injury in perspective.
"You're taking away the biggest bone in your leg," said Escobedo. "It's so essential in wrestling to have leg power. He was out there wrestling with one leg. So it's pretty impressive what he was able to do with that injury."
In fact, despite what happened, Weaver was able to return to wrestling ... crafting a 26-12 record and qualifying for the 2018 NCAA Division I championships as a junior. However, just a couple weeks after the season ended, Weaver tore ligaments in his ankle during training. Another surgery resulted in more hardware to hold his ankle together.
If this series of incidents and injuries weren't enough, Weaver suffered a neck injury -- a herniated cervical disk -- which occurred during a match back in December. Sadly, that proved to be the end of his amateur wrestling career.
Yet, Weaver has managed to be upbeat through it all.
"My career definitely did not end how I wanted it to," Weaver said. "But the people I've met along the way and the connections I've made being here, it's just been awesome."
One of those people is Indiana University Assistant Athletic Trainer Kyle Winters, who has been working with Cole Weaver after his neck injury to help him regain feeling in two of his fingers ... and nominated the former wrestler for the Brady Comeback Award.
"Cole's dignity, his perseverance, his resilience -- he just has a very tough personality," Winters told WTHR-TV. "He's overall a tough person. He every day wakes up and 'what can I do to get better today?'"
Here's how the organization which sponsors the Brady Comeback Award describes this annual honor which is now in its 14th year: "This award is unique because it honors both male and female student-athletes at the collegiate and high school level from Indiana who have distinguished themselves by overcoming adversity or injury, and returned and excelled beyond expectations in their respective sport(s). Recipients of this award will receive a $1,000 scholarship."
Weaver and three other athletes will be presented with the award at a dinner in Indianapolis this Friday, May 10.