Determined Trieb making the most of his senior season at Buffalo Grove
A serious car crash.
A fall from two stories or higher.
That's the kind of catastrophic event that would cause an injury of the magnitude of Tom Trieb's broken hip.
But the Buffalo Grove senior wasn't in a car accident, and he didn't take a fall from 20-plus feet.
Trieb, a 6-foot-2, 240-pound running back who is built like a truck, broke his hip in a football game this past fall, in an unusually forceful fall that drove his right leg violently into the ground. Trieb, who had already committed to play college football at Northern Illinois before the season even started, had just caught a 40-yard pass. He had a defender on his back and that added to the force of the impact of his leg into the ground.
"I knew something was wrong right away," Trieb said. "I heard a crack in my hip."
Trieb, who heard a sound that every grandma dreads and that most young, fit athletes don't ever even contemplate, was one play into the second game of the 2018 football season.
In the season opener against Downers Grove North the week before, Trieb showed the makings of a promising fall, rushing for 150 yards and 5 touchdowns.
To go from that, to suddenly rehabbing as if he was lucky to survive a car accident with an injury that is rare for someone his age, put Trieb in a state of shock.
"I couldn't believe it when (doctors) told me the news that I was done for the season. My senior season," Trieb said. "I just broke down and cried. It was such a sad moment knowing that something I love was gone."
Trieb was darn well determined not to lose basketball too.
A three-sport athlete all through high school, Trieb put it in his mind, even with a broken hip that was just hours old, that he would be back for basketball.
Amazingly, after months of rehab and six long weeks of using crutches 24/7, he made it in the nick of time. And if you were none the wiser, you would never know that Trieb is just months removed from a car crash-caliber broken hip.
Trieb is the Buffalo Grove basketball team's big man, and its leading rebounder at 7 rebounds per game. He is also averaging about 12 points per game.
He wasn't fully cleared by his doctors to resume normal sports activities until the day before Buffalo Grove's first game, in the Thanksgiving tournament that it hosts.
Trieb skipped that first game ... and then started the next one.
He's been playing as if he never missed a beat, or broke a hip, since then.
"It's amazing to me what Tom has been able to do," Buffalo Grove basketball coach Keith Peterson said. "He didn't need to have surgery, but he worked really hard to get healthy. He kept his weight off his leg, he worked with trainers on his strength and mobility.
"He's done a lot, but the fact that he is back so fast and playing so well really shows what a great athlete he is."
The fact that Trieb got a scholarship offer from Northern Illinois shows that, too.
The Huskies offered Trieb a full ride late in his junior year. They had never seen him in person, and he had never been to one of their camps. But they were impressed with his size and his speed and his tape from his junior football season, in which he rolled up 90 tackles as a defensive end and rushed for 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns as a running back.
It was his first season at running back. Ever.
"I didn't even play running back in youth football. I was always a bigger kid so I was always a lineman," Trieb said. "But my coaches (at Buffalo Grove) thought I would be a good running back. They had confidence in my athletic ability, so they put me there junior year.
"We had a great season that year. We went to the playoffs for the first time in 15 years. The whole school rallied around us. I had so much fun with that team."
Trieb, who will be used as a tight end at Northern Illinois, was looking forward to building on that fun and success as a senior.
It was like a punch to the gut every time he had to show up at practice on his crutches. Hobbling around the sidelines to cheer on his teammates at games was even worse.
But, after his injury, he was there for his teammates, at every practice and every game.
"I was at all of them," Trieb said. "That was very hard. It was always my dream to play my senior year with my friends. When that went away, I was so upset about it. I didn't like not being able to play."
Having football end prematurely not only motivated Trieb during his rehab, it also put a different priority on basketball season.
With football always being his main sport, Trieb took basketball seriously, but he played it more for fun, just as he does baseball and track, his other sports.
Now, basketball is different for Trieb.
"If I had played my whole senior year of football, I probably would have had a different mentality with basketball," Trieb said. "I would have worked hard, but for me it probably would have been 'whatever happens, happens.'
"But since I lost football, I really want to do my best in basketball. I really want to help this team do the best we can. I want to help us win. I feel like I'm living for every moment and playing for every moment."
Trieb says he was a little cautious in his first game back. But that wore off quickly.
"As I kept playing and practicing, I went back to playing like I've always played," Trieb said. "I was just really excited to be out there playing again. I missed sports and being able to compete.
"I hadn't played basketball in over a year, but I fell in love with it all over again. It was just so good to be back."
Follow Patricia on Twitter: @babcockmcgraw