Fairfield senior fights through pain to keep playing
Posted: 09/20/2012 at 1:15 am
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Caleb Noble (right) of Fairfield waits for a play during practice on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012. Noble is battling a leg injury as he continues to play during his senior football season. (Truth Photo By Bill Beck)
Fairfield High School Varsity Football Team Caleb Noble (11) (Truth Photo By Evey Wilson)
Per Merriam-Webster, the word is defined as: “Possessing outstanding qualities; famous, notable.”
In terms of Fairfield football, the word “Noble” portrays one tough, confident young man with a will of steel and a heart of gold.
Caleb Noble, a Falcon senior, is willingly competing this fall despite an injury that would knock most of us on our fannies.
“We tell kids, there’s a difference in being hurt and being injured. Caleb is injured,” said Falcons coach Bob Miller. “Nine times out of 10 with this, you’re gonna stop playing.”
Caleb Noble didn’t get that memo.
With the inside bone attached to his right knee “falling off,” according to Miller, Noble continues to play. It’s his choice.
The injury surfaced last spring during track, but may have originally occurred as far back as his sophomore season.
“He refuses to let it be more than just a little thing,” Miller said. “In 28 years, I’ve never had a kid mentally that tough.”
To Noble, it’s a minor distraction to an otherwise strong 2012 season for Fairfield, now 5-0. The Falcons, with a tough stretch featuring Angola and two NECC unbeatens — Lakeland and Churubusco — in the next three weeks will need Noble, healthy or partly healthy, to be ready.
Noble spoke of his condition with clarity and a positive smile.
“Mostly on Fridays, I’m going pretty good. The pain hasn’t been that bad,” Noble said. “My parents keep asking how it is at practices. We pray about it every night that God’s going to keep me in His hands.”
Caleb is in sound medical hands, too.
Kevin Noble, Caleb’s father, said that the family worked with doctors at South Bend Orthopedic to make sure the path to playing was clear to all involved.
“They wanted to make sure we knew and Caleb knew what was going on,” Kevin said. “We asked (the doctor), ‘If it was your son, what would you do?’ He said, ‘I’d let him play.”’
That, of course, means holding your breath every Friday night. A wrong plant of his leg or wrong hit from an opponent could result in surgery right away.
“Every time he goes down, you wonder is he going to get up?” Kevin said. “If you know anything about Caleb, he’s all about the team ... he’ll give everything he’s got. That’s his bottom line.”
Caleb, according to his dad, would rather finish the season hurt on the field than to sit and watch now.
So he picks his spots to bring it down a notch when he can.
On Monday, Noble can take it pretty easy. Tuesday it’s light drills and only on offense. Wednesday and Thursday he’s allowed to ramp up his workout time, but it’s kept to a minimum.
“He’s worked so hard in his conditioning that he couldn’t even play the next week,” said Miller, who had to have Noble stand on crutches and watch the home game against Fremont three weeks ago. In fact, Noble spends most of Saturdays and Sundays on crutches.
Surgery would permanently repair the bone connection, but Noble doesn’t wish to miss his final year of football.
Taking a hit hasn’t bothered the Falcon, though running — actually, slowing up — does elevate the pain.
“It has crossed my mind. It’s tough to run sometimes,” Noble said. “The doctor said it was a big risk playing, but it’s my senior year.”
Noble hauled in two touchdown passes in last week’s 32-29 victory over Eastside. On Tuesday, he took part in most of the drills and even ran routes in 7-on-7 work.
“He’s on top of his game right now,” said Darin Holsopple, a Fairfield assistant coach. “He’s been dominating.”
Seriously. With half of a leg and a bone that could break off.
That’s a dominating spirit if nothing else.
“They feel like it’s an old injury that never healed and won’t unless it’s surgically fixed,” Miller said.
Noble rests when he can and ices the front of his knee. It’s all he can do. “Icing dead bone doesn’t help,” Noble said.
Noble’s persistence could be viewed as heroic to some and half-brained to others. I lean toward taking the high road on this one.
In an age where many young athletes equate an elbow bruise or a hangnail as a reason to take a day off, Caleb Noble stands tall.
In a biblical definition, the name “Caleb” refers to a companion of Moses and Joshua who was noted for his astute powers of observation and fearlessness in the face of overwhelming odds.
That seems to fit.
Astute powers of observation.
Possessing outstanding qualities.
If nothing else, it’s a name which embodies success.
Pure and simple, he’s a winner.
Bill Beck can be contacted at email@example.com