Santiam’s Sendlinger Overcomes Hurdle To Return To Field

By Jeremy McDonald

MILL CITY, Ore.— It’s quite regular to see kids go from one sport to another with ease.  Some even work in travel and club sports in there as well with ease as well or count it as one of their school-year activities.

But ever so often, something strange happens that throws these athletic warriors through a loop.

With the American Legion Triple-A Squad the Keizer Crushers were wrapping up their 2018 Summer Season and Jesse Sendlinger was wrapping up his first summer with the team after playing Football, Basketball and Baseball for the Santiam Wolverines over the school year.

The middle infielder, who was getting some extra work in with his game with the Crushers to help improve himself prepare for his Seniors season, is known to really hit it hard, is teachable and ask questions just work his tail off to better himself all to help his teammates on the field.

“I have to say, it’s part of my High School life.  It’s all I look forward too when I get up,” said Sendlinger. “I go to school.  Obviously go to school to learn, but I also have to pass my classes to go to sports, I just look forward to it everyday to go out to practice.  Baseball practice go learn something, football go hit somebody and learn something and we’re having a special season, so I just want to keep winning to learn everyday and everything I can.”

But by the end of the summer, the hard work began to take a toll on his body as he felt a little out of wack.

Sendlinger was feeling tightness in his chest and was feeling super tired, something uncharacteristic from him that had put him on the DL with summer ball ending and Football starting up pretty immediately with the calendar turning in August.

It was the worst nightmare for any athlete, not to mention right before their Senior Year. Fearing of not being able to play, be competitive and help their team in some way.  So fearing the worst, Sendlinger went and sought medical help to see what was up, to see what the issue was before the football season really kicked off at the end of the month.


But then another wave of fear hit.

Sendlinger (helmet off, on knee to the right of #5 Riley Rothrock) waiting for the coaches to come after Santiam’s 44-0 win over Kennedy September 14 (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

Initially doctors weren’t able to work him in until later on in the season, putting the risk to play if he was cleared, closer to the postseason instead of as soon as possible as he wanted as the nerves began to build about playing this Football season as the Wolverines looked to return to the 2A State Title Game.

“I started to get, ‘oh no’, when they said I would have to wait just late into the season just to be looked at and I wouldn’t have been approved until then.  I think that’s when I got the most scared because I just wanted to get it in and get it over with,” said Sendlinger. “Just whether I was going to play or not.  I just wanted it to happen.”

After calling around Sendlinger went into the Play Smart Clinic at Providence for an EKG, a test to listen to how the electrical activity of the heart, that eventually led into an appointment at Dornbeckers to see the Pediatric Cardiologist the Friday before their first game versus Regis.

Then finally the result came in:  His heart was fine, but his lungs acted up from asthma and the chest tightness that mimicked chest pains was associated with that.  His tiredness was from being dehydrated and muscle wasting from being so active from a long period of time without taking a break to let himself heal up properly.

It was a good sign nonetheless, but it sucked considering that he’ll have to miss the start of the season trying to get the required practices to play.  The good news was though at least he was able to get back onto the field and start really prepare for the season that was a week old by the time he was eligible to play.

He had to keep in mind that he had to ease his way back into it and not accelerate it in order to avoid a setback even though he wanted to be certain he was 100-percent when he stepped on the field.

“Oh it great, but since we were so far into the season I had a short time to get back in shape and a short time to learn everything that we were doing to give everything I have for the team,” said Sendlinger. “I would just go until I…I wouldn’t push myself too hard, but I would push myself as hard as I could so when I did comeback, I was a hundred percent and I could play the whole game.”

He was at full strength when league kicked off a few weeks later with Santiam knocking on the door for their second straight trip to the 2A State Title Game, facing the same team that defeated them for the Title last season in Monroe in the Semi-Final round Saturday morning.

Sendlinger (7) talking to a few of his teammates during practice Wednesday night at Santiam HS (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

Practice was on-par to what they were hoping for as a team and for guys like Sendlinger, Trevor Tinney and company, they want revenge as much as they want that ‘Pursuit For Blue’ they said to end practice as a team signifying winning the Championship that these Final Four teams are aiming for.

Their coaches reminded them, especially the seniors, it could be done in a blink of an eye with the ball in their court.

Sendlinger, who has played with many of these kids since fourth-, fifth-, sixth-grade, to share this moment with them one last time with the biggest game of their season waiting for them at 11am Saturday morning in Cottage Grove.

“It’s a great feeling, we’ve been playing together since I want to say fifth/sixth-grade, maybe fourth-grade,” said Sendlinger. “So we all know each other and knowing it’s our last season.  It’s win-or-go-home.  It’s just a great feeling that’ll stay with us forever and seen how much we’ve all grown together and doing some special things like we’ve been doing.”

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