July 21, 2010

Video: Nadelen's Tenacity Now Targets No. 24

by Matt DaSilva | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff | Video by Loud Communications

MANCHESTER, England -- Shawn Nadelen needed no more inspiration these last six months other than to know why he was meant to come to Manchester -- and a mental picture of Canada’s number 24.

Nadelen, less than six months removed from knee surgery that would keep more pedestrian athletes sidelined for a year, is a starting defenseman for the U.S. national team. His assignment: John Grant Jr.

“We definitely enjoy each others company at first but then it gets into the head butting, the physical play and beating each other up as much as we can," Nadelen said of his rivalry with Grant. "It’s fun to do, but really I’m here help out Team USA however I can. If they want me to lean on him a little bit, test him or go take care of somebody else, whatever they need.”

Few thought Nadelen would make it to Manchester when he tore his ACL during a Philadephia Wings game in January. But US Lacrosse left the door open for Nadelen to return. And after a Herculean rehabilitation, he’s here, tussling with Grant again.

“When I went down that game, obviously the World Games was the first thing that came to mind," Nadelen said. "Once I found out it was the ACL, it took a about two minutes to sulk a little bit until, alright, next step surgery. Let’s get this thing rolling. No time to waste.”

The hardest part of the rehab, Nadelen said, was waking up every two hours to treat his knee and exercise his leg muscles. The first month was critical.

“Almost like some people say having a baby those first two or three weeks," he said, "making sure you’re awake, doing the rehab with the icing, ankle balms, medication and everything move along from there as far as getting deflection and getting the leg to move back to the timeline.”

Nadelen’s intensive rehab was overseen by Team USA’s Dr. Les Matthews, as well as Nadelen’s wife, Mary, a certified athletic trainer who works at Towson, where Nadelen is the assistant men’s lacrosse coach

“Baltimore had the worst winter they ever had right after m surgery, 80 inches of snow," he said. "Not only was my wife taking care of me; she was also shoveling all the snow that we got by herself.”

Nadelen lost nearly 20 pounds after the surgery -- and put it back on in muscle. He said he feels strong and has had no issues with his knee, "knock on wood."

Nadelen will need all the strength he can muster against Grant. The rivals renewed pleasantries Saturday in a preliminary match. Grant, who after that game called Nadelen’s comeback a “testament to his tenacity,” carried Canada to a 10-9 victory with a dominant fourth quarter.

DJ Driscoll split time with Nadelen guarding Grant.

“We have little tricks like trying to lift, get one hand on his stick, just be a real pain in his butt. We wanted to mix up where we were picking him up to initiate. Get in his head a little bit and try to get him to take himself out of the game," Driscoll said. "He loves the inside roll, whether it’s behind the back –or he had that goal where he got topside and put it right over Doc’s shoulder – we know he’s capable of that and it’s really trying to ride him out and have the defense dictates where we’re going to drive him and have the slide come when we need it.”

Sometimes, it’s not enough.

 “You do everything you can. You’re playing position defense. You lift his hands. And he’s a great player who makes a great play. That’s gonna happen,” Driscoll said.

Said Nadelen: “He’s just so creative – hanging all over him – you’re basically tackling him. He can do everything with both hands. Obviously he’s a strong lefty everybody knows that. When he has two hands on the stick he’s magical. Even when he has one hand on the stick, lefty or righty, he makes things happen. He’s big. He’s more physical than you think. He’s got a lot on top. He’s a load. He’s probably got 40 or 50 pounds on me. He’s a lot to handle when he leans in on you and he’s so skilled. No matter which way you’re turning him or banging him, he just takes it.”

It’s a challenge Nadelen envisioned through five months of painstaking rehabilitation.

“There was definitely a motivation for me during rehab to know that I was getting bacl to be able to take on him and knowing what he’s all about," he said. "It helped me stay in the weight room and get stronger, get as strong as I could knowing I’ve got to throw him around as much as I can.”

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