Benet’s Andrew Valadka still hospitalized after spinal injury

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Benet senior defensive back Andrew Valadka remains hospitalized after suffering a spinal fracture during Friday’s game against Carmel in Lisle.

According to Redwings coach Pat New, Valadka underwent a surgical procedure on Monday. He also had surgery on Saturday.

“With these things it’s very frustrating because you just don’t know how the body is going to respond, and sometimes you don’t know for a week or two,” New said. “I will say it’s very serious, but he’s in great care. We’ll just have to be patient.”

New pointed out that he has dedicated several hours over the past few days to learning about similar injuries.

“I’ve learned that the body’s ability to recover is pretty amazing,” he said. “We’re keeping our hopes up. There’s been some good signs we’ve seen and we’re just hoping and praying as much as possible for a full recovery.”

The Wheaton resident was hurt while making a tackle, something he’s done countless times. Sustaining a spinal injury like this one rarely happens. According to the Gridiron Heroes Spinal Cord Injury Foundation, only one in every 100,000 high school football players will suffer a serious spinal cord injury each year.

“He’s one of those kids who does everything perfectly,” Benet senior defensive back Mac Cooney said of Valadka. “He wraps up the right way with his head up, while the rest of us give in sometimes and go in with our heads down, which is unsafe.

“The one time where he lets go, this happens. It’s just a terrible, tragic accident. It really puts things in perspective for the DBs.”

Cooney and many of his teammates made it a priority to visit with Valadka on Sunday.

“We’re a pretty close team and a bunch of us went to see him,” Cooney said. “He was laughing and joking around. There wasn’t a moment of silence. It was all upbeat.”

Due to Monday’s holiday, Benet was able to practice early in the day. They also met as a team to pray.

“This is the toughest situation I’ve had to deal with as a coach,” New said. “It was very nice to see him in good spirits (on Sunday) because of his friends, and no one is losing faith.”

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