SALINA, OK —
Nearly four months after suffering a serious spinal injury during Salina’s football home opener, senior Brett Kerns signed a baseball scholarship with Connors State College Thursday.
The injury resulted from a play in which Kerns landed on the side of his face, in a position awkward enough to induce “central spinal cord syndrome,” whereby the spinal cord swells. The most common outcome is the loss of arm and hand movement.
Kerns remained in the hospital four days.
Two days passed before he was able to walk. Two more passed before he regained the use of his left arm and hand.
“I woke up around 2 a.m. and the first thing I noticed was I couldn’t feel my hands or legs,” Kerns said. “My first thought was ‘I’m paralyzed.’ My immediate next thought was ‘I’m not going to be able to play sports again.’ That was the worst feeling.”
The 18-year-old said he put in extra work rehabbing in order to make a full recovery.
“I did stuff on my own to get better, but others also pushed and encouraged me along the way,” Kerns said.
Salina Head Coach Matt Simmons was among those gathered at the superintendents office for Kern’s signing.
“He’s one of those kind of throwback hard, hard-nose guys,” said Simmons. “He set a goal to play at the next level. He works extremely hard, and everything he’s achieved is the result of hard work.”
Kerns plays shortstop for the Wildcats. However, he said he was recruited as more of a utility player.
“Playing college baseball is something I have wanted since I was little,” Kerns said. “It’s a huge relief to get to play this season knowing that I’ll be playing at Connors next year.”