Wauconda's Malisheski eager to sign with ISU -- and start healing
Kevin Malisheski plans to sign a national letter of intent next Wednesday to play baseball for Illinois State University.
He won't be jumping for joy, however. Not literally, that is.
The Wauconda senior suffered a torn left anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus during the football team's Class 6A first-round state playoff loss to host Montini in rainy Lombard. The Bulldogs' three-year varsity starting quarterback was injured late in the opening half of a 35-7 defeat.
He is scheduled to have surgery Friday.
"It was a rough way to go out, but it was a fun game nonetheless," said Malisheski, who had never played in a state playoff game. He finished the season completing 57 percent of his passes (77 for 134) for 1,113 yards and 9 touchdowns. He also rushed for 4 TDs.
Trailing Montini 21-0 in the final minute of the first half, Wauconda was threatening to score and had the ball in the red zone. That's when the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Malisheski suffered his injury.
"I was rolling out and this dude came in up the middle, and I saw him so I planted my foot," Malisheski said. "I just tried to cut back, and my foot got stuck in the (artificial) turf, and my knee moved. That was the only thing that moved. It just like cracked. I didn't even get hit. I just went down immediately. I pretty much knew something was wrong."
When Malisheski got in the training room, he says doctors from both Wauconda and Montini suspected an ACL tear. An MRI Monday confirmed the bad news.
"I was keeping my fingers crossed," Malisheski said. "But in the back of my mind, I was like, 'I know something's wrong, whether it's a tear or strain.' "
Illinois State, which received a verbal commitment from Malisheski this past summer, is sticking by the promising pitcher, who last spring pitched Wauconda to a Class 3A sectional championship.
"I called (the ISU coaches) Tuesday at school," Malisheski said. "They were a little disappointed (about the knee injury) and felt bad for me. But they offered their support and said if I need anything to just let them know. They told me their trainer is going to help me out and give me an alternate workout that I could be doing."
ACL reconstructions usually require a six-month recovery period. Malisheski hopes to get back on the pitching mound sometime in May. Ideally, he'd like to pitch some innings before the state tournament begins.
"I know the physical therapy and all that is going to be tough," the right-hander said. "But if I really want to play baseball in high school, I got to get after it."
In the meantime, he has already started physical therapy in advance of his surgery. He says he plans to sign his letter of intent at the high school along with his classmate Kayla Wedl, who will be signing to play softball with UIC. Whether Malisheski will be on crutches for the special day remains to be seen.
"I heard if they repair the meniscus, then I need to be on crutches," he said. "But if they just let it heal, I'm pretty sure I'll be able to walk on it."
Regardless, he'll be excited to ink with ISU, whether he's limping or not.
"It'll be (a day) I'll remember, for sure," he said with a chuckle.