For Trey Campbell, stepping onto the football field after several weeks away due to injury was a feeling unlike no other.
With the turf at Westhills Stadium field beneath his cleats, his helmet strapped on and the Westshore Rebels jersey on his back, the running back felt better than ever standing next to his teammates for his first home game back against the Langley Rams recently.
But weeks ago the 22-year-old’s career with the Canadian Junior Football League wasn’t as promising. In fact, it had come to a grinding halt.
On July 29, the Rebels’ were playing their season opener against the Okanagan Sun in Kelowna. After a run play, the five-foot-eight-inch, 180-pound Campbell returned to the bench, but it was only when he took off his gloves that he realized something wasn’t right. The middle and index fingers on his left hand were pointing in opposite directions and bone was sticking out.
Campbell isn’t exactly sure how he sustained the injury, but believes someone may have stepped on his fingers.
Shortly after, Campbell went to a hospital in Kelowna where they popped one of his fingers back into place, and popped the second finger back after returning to the West Shore. But the injury – his first while playing football – meant he would be out of the game for several weeks.
“I was disappointed, I was at a loss for words. I just thought I was dreaming. I worked hard for this and I break my fingers in the first game? I was really down,” said Campbell, who is originally from Toronto and is playing his second season with the Rebels. “Being on the sidelines for two games really killed me because I just wanted to contribute to my team and help them out.”
Determined to recover quickly, Campbell attended rehab and did laser therapy daily at a clinic in Royal Oak.
Campbell stood on the sidelines as the Rebels climbed to 4-1 on the season, and while he was happy the team was doing well, he was desperate to get back on the field.
He kept up his physical strength by running and lifting weights with one hand until his injury had healed.
“I knew when I returned, I had to make it big,” Campbell said.
And he did just that. Campbell returned to the field for the team’s 29-5 win over the Langley Rams on Aug. 19, touching the ball 16 times for 150 yards and two touchdowns. He continued that momentum during the Rebels’ 51-13 win over the Chilliwack Valley Huskers last week, touching the ball 15 times for 128 yards and one touchdown.
“Trey’s got that X factor about him. You can stop him maybe for three yards first, maybe six yards next, but all of the sudden he’s going to hit for those big runs … he’s really hard to handle on the open field,” said Rebels head coach Charly Cardilicchia.
While there’s only five games left in the season, Campbell is positive he’ll be able to get his game back on track, especially in time for what is expected to be a heated match up between the Rebels and the Vancouver Island Raiders on Saturday, Sept. 16 at Westhills Stadium.