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Manheim Township's Jake Laubach's lightning-fast ACL recovery stuns trainer, inspires team

Senior midfielder Jake Laubach tore ACL in late September during a football game against Hempfield.

LANCASTER, Pa. — A devastating injury can take time to heal both mentally and physically for an athlete. But one area lacrosse standout wasted no time finding his way back to the field.

Manheim Township's Jake Laubach went down with a knee injury on Sept. 23, 2022 in a football game against rival Hempfield. 

When he takes the field for the Blue Streaks lacrosse team in the District III playoffs, the scars on his left knee are still prominent. Along with his knee brace, they serve as the only evidence visible of his torn ACL.

"The biggest pain [was] probably just watching my teammates play football and lacrosse without me and knowing that I wanted to be on the field with them," the senior said before taking the field.

Determined to get back into competition for his senior season, Laubach let nothing stand his way.

"My trainers here Steph and Cam, and mom and coach Lyons, just telling me and reassuring me that if I wait my time then I'll be back better than I was before," he told FOX43. "Just to continue to keep doing the things I could like non-contact practice and just hop in whenever I could when I was allowed to."

His return in April, just seven months after the injury, has stunned those around him. 

“From day one, he was determined to get himself back out on the field," said Stephanie Haefele, Manheim Township's head athletic trainer. She was one of the guiding voices behind Jake's journey back to the field. 

"I didn't think it was possible," Stephanie recalled. "He worked just incredibly hard putting in time with a sports physical therapist, making sure he's following the surgeon's orders and working with myself and Cam just to get to where he is.” 

Laubach’s return is not only huge for the Blue Streaks on the stat sheet and lineup card, but a major boost in leadership, for the present and also the future.  

“Having Jake on the field is a game changer for us," says Manheim Township head coach Dan Lyons.   

"I think it sets a great example [of] how to trust the team around you. Like I said our athletic trainers, the doctors, his family, having what's in his best interest and him being selfless and not trying to go out and do things before he's able to do so and set himself back.” 

A leader through his actions is what Jake does best, every rep at practice he is determined to give 100 percent. His recovery over seven months was impressive, no question, yet, in his first game action some doubt lingered on how would his knee hold up.

 "That first game when I was in there, I dodge the first time and I was trying to kind of avoid contact," Laubach recalled. "I was scared and then as the game started flowing and the adrenaline started pumping."

A defining moment in game two against the perfect opponent erases any hesitation in his mind.

"Coming back against Hempfield, being the rival that I got hurt against, I had a little bit more like adrenaline going. So I think the pain was even less but there was a point in that game where I actually got hit and fell on the ground right onto my knee. I got up and it felt great, like no pain at all. So ever since then, it's kind of like clear in my mind." 

For Jake, there is just one more item on the recovery checklist. 

"This is our final year, especially for our seniors. And we really want to just go out there and win the whole thing. So that's what I wanted to help my team do."

Download the FOX43 app here.

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