Thistle 100 percent after unlikely injury; former North Allegheny lineman eager for college
Playing college football seemed like a foregone conclusion for former North Allegheny center Peter Thistle.
During his senior season last fall, the Tigers just had successfully defended the WPIAL Quad A Championship and were practicing to defend the PIAA title, too. The first practice after the Tigers won the second-straight WPIAL title, Thistle suffered a knee injury, and the college offers began to vanish.
Prior to the injury, Thistle was listening to offers from schools such as The Citadel, Wofford, Holy Cross and Lafayette. When he got hurt, all but Holy Cross pulled the offers and broke off talks.
“A big part of getting (a college) education is figuring out how to pay for it,” Thistle said. “I wanted to go to the best academic school, but in my situation, I love football, so I tried to pursue (a scholarship).”
The odd thing about Thistle's injury was that it occurred when he was a young boy, but the wear and tear of being a football player finally caused the injury to temporarily slow him down.
When he was younger, Thistle cut his leg open on the exhaust pipe of a van. The focus was on getting the bleeding to stop. As a result, nobody noticed that he knocked a part of his femur bone loose.
“I didn't even know that had happened,” Thistle said. “I had pain in the knee, but just thought I could play through it.”
Thinking the pain was just the rigors of being a lineman, Thistle went full tilt until that practice, when things finally came to a head.
Thistle was diagnosed with stage IV osteochronditis-dissecans. The fragment he jarred loose as a kid had chipped completely off his femur and was floating around inside his leg at the end of last season.
“The doctor had to go in, fish the fragment out and screw the fragment back to the femur,” Thistle said.
“The screws were in for four months before they took them out, and I had to be immobilized during that time.”
The screws were removed at the end of four months.
Thistle had to sit still while he healed but said once the surgery was finished, the pain was gone. He likened the rehab and the time frame of recovery to that of an ACL injury. The rehab also is similar.
“I was surprised how little weight I gained while I had to sit around,” he said. “If something was good about the injury, it was when it happened.
“We just won back-to-back WPIAL titles, and we lost the next game,” Thistle said. “I would have liked to play that game we lost. Maybe I could have made a difference. I will never know.”
With three championship medals in his possession, Thistle refocused on getting healthy once again and playing college football.
North Allegheny head coach Art Walker Jr. made a call to the University of Delaware, where he knew the defensive coordinator.
Walker spoke to Thistle about the school, which is Division I AA. Delaware could not offer a scholarship, but coaches told Thistle that if he walked on, he could earn a scholarship. This offer appealed to him.
“In retrospect, schools like Lafayette don't come close to the caliber of the University of Delaware,” Thistle said. “They have played in three national title games in the past 10 years.
“God has a weird sense of humor … this injury landed me at the University of Delaware, and I am excited to walk on and earn my stripes.”
Thistle said he now is at 100 percent and has been working out “old-school style.”
He said he could have played this season but opted to work out, get as fit as possible and then go to college in the spring to pursue his degree in exercise physiology and marketing and work out with the football team, with a plan of lining up on the field in 2013.
Jerry Clark is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-779-6979.
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.