Back on FB field after torn ACL in 2010
Kai Lemrise could not recall suffering anything more serious than a few nicks and scrapes while competing on the football field.
Kai Lemrise raises his helmet before the start of a Del Norte High School football game in 2009. Lemrise, a 2010 Del Norte High School graduate who is coming back from a torn ACL, will play this fall for Shasta College. The Daily Triplicate/Bryant Anderson
That luck ran out last fall, but the tenacity Lemrise displayed on the gridiron has helped him to make a return to the field despite suffering a serious injury.
The 2010 Del Norte High School graduate has been playing football since he was a child and was already starting at middle linebacker as a true freshman at Shasta College in Redding last season.
At the end of the second game of the year he suffered a torn ACL on his right knee and was out for the season.
“It was so hard sitting out,” Lemrise said. “Ever since I was little I have played football. I missed it.”
Seriously contemplating taking a year off, he received encouragement from his coaches, which has pushed Lemrise to return to the team for this upcoming season.
He returned to the field for the first time for practices at the end of May and said he believes he will be ready to compete in fall camp and hopefully earn a starting spot at his new position, defensive lineman. Lemrise received a medical redshirt and will be a redshirt freshman this fall.
The injury occurred near the end of a game against Santa Rosa.
The Knights had just scored and Lemrise was on the kickoff return team as they raced down the field. He recalled jumping over an opponent and planting his right foot on the ground. He recalled hearing “a pop and my right knee went out.”
Later, Lemrise found out he had a torn ACL and his season was done. Due to insurance reasons he did not have surgery until December and said that it took nearly six months to heal.
Lemrise was leaning towards not playing and giving his knee more time to heal. In hindsight, he said, he believes if that happened there is a possibility he would not have returned.
Instead, the Knights new defensive coordinator approached Lemrise and told him he would like him to return for 2011.
Lemrise was told that the coaches liked his speed and wanted to try him out at defensive lineman. The idea, he was told, is to use his speed at a position normally dominated by big men that can tip in at 300 pounds or greater. Lemrise is 6 feet 2 inches tall and around 220 pounds.
“They told me they thought I could go out and help the line,” he said. “When they talked to me it convinced me to come back.”
He said it will take time to fully recover and said he will return to Redding soon for summer workouts.
While he would love to start in the fall Lemrise said that to just get back on the field means everything to him and whatever else happens is a bonus.
“I’m trying to get back to playing and I want to do my best,” he said. “I want to help out in any way possible.”
Lemrise said that this love for the game became even stronger when he was out with his injury.
He recalled sitting in the press booth with the coaching staff during games as he helped with stats and looked down at his teammates playing below.
“It was so tough being up in the booth,” he said. “I wanted to be down there playing. I had never not been on the field since I started when I was seven.”
At Del Norte High as a senior, Lemrise played linebacker and was the second leading tackler in the Big 3 Conference, he said. He was named a Big 3 honorable conference selection.
Lemrise also excelled on the wrestling mat. His senior year, Lemrise took first place and earned a White Star at the Humboldt-Del Norte Conference White Star Championships at 171. He also took fifth place at the Northcoast Section Championships.
Lemrise said that he thought about wrestling at Shasta College but decided to pursue football instead.
Recently, he helped the Del Norte High football team at a football camp in Gold Beach, Ore.
When he was in school, former players would come out and give pointers and help out.
He said that it was nice to return the favor and teach the defense what he knew.
“It was a pretty cool,”Lemrise said,
The Shasta Knights open the season on Sept. 10 at Diablo Valley.