Pat Schlosser had been through concussions before.
But, for whatever reason, the concussion he suffered in Wesley College’s preseason football camp last August affected him much more deeply.
“After those concussions in high school, I was able to get back to myself fairly quickly,” said the 6-foot, 180-pound sophomore wide receiver.
“This one had kind of a deep impact emotionally. I went through some rough spells emotionally.
“I was really in a rut for a while and I couldn’t really get out of it.”
Among other things, Schlosser says the head injury robbed him of his love for football. The risk just didn’t seem worth it.
Eventually, he left the team.
“I don’t think I want to go through what I went through again,” he said. “It was very scary — and it was scary because I was aware enough of myself to know I was going through it. But I was emotionally unstable to some point where I just didn’t want to help myself. I got to some pretty low points.”
Schlosser said there were so many people who helped him get through that tough stretch — from his parents, to Wesley’s academic staff and counselors to the Wolverines’ football staff.
He was finally able to pull his life back together.
“They always had nothing but positive energy they were funnelling into my life,” said Schlosser. “Thank goodness I was able to get back on the right track. Now I’m feeling better than ever. I have a new outlook on life and it’s thanks to everybody here at Wesley College. They saved my life.”
If Schlosser’s athletic career had ended with his football career, nobody would have blamed him.
But it didn’t.
Instead, Schlosser focused all his drive and athletic ability into a track & field event that takes plenty of both — the decathlon. He found his passion for a sport again.
Earlier this week, Schlosser was in Philadelphia’s cavernous, old Franklin Field, competing in the Penn Relays, the sport’s most prestigous meet.
“It’s awe-inspiring, to say the least,” said Schlosser. “It’s a phenomenally humbling experience to know who’s run on that track before — whose footsteps you’re running in and throwing in. ... It didn’t really hit me until the second day where I was competing and what I was doing.
“I remember pole vaulting and I was a little frustrated. I took a look around and I couldn’t help but just smile and feel beyond blessed that I was in the situation I was in.”
Competing in just his third decathlon, Schlosser finished third at the Penn Relays. The only competitors ahead of him were from Cornell and Franklin Pierce.
Schlosser won five of the 10 events that make up the decathlon, taking first in the discus, the shot put and the 1,500, 100 and 400-meter runs.
What made Schlosser’s showing even more remamrkable was that it was his second decathlon in a span of just six days.
Wesley track coah Stephen Kimes said he tried talking Scholosser out of competing in the first meet, at Morgan State, but the youngster said he needed the experience.
At the Penn Relays, Kimes mentioned Schlosser’s unusual double to longtime Cornell coach Nathan Taylor.
“He told me in his 35 years as a head coach, he’s never heard of anything like that,” said Kimes. “Whenever anyone’s complaining about a workout or pain, he’s now going to use Patrick as his example.”
Kimes doesn’t think Schlosser is done yet this season, either.
Schlosser’s total of 6,211 points at the Penn Relays is the ninth-highest decathlon total in NCAA Division III this season. With more improvement in some of his events, Kimes doesn’t think a national championship is out of the question.
“Being just a young decathlete, I think he’s going to get at least one national championship in his career,” said Kimes. “It’s amazing when you do one decathlon at Morgan State and then you come back two days later and you go faster or you jump further. It’s unbelievable but that’s what he did.”
“My number one goal is to win nationals,” said Schlosser. “I will always try to aim as high as I can. I do believe it is an attainable goal.”
Whether or not Schlosser wins a national title isn’t necessarily the point, though.
It’s more about the fact that he’s bounced back from one of the toughest times in his life to find something that drives him again.
“It’s more so a mentally natural fit than it is a physically natural fit,” Schlosser said about the decathlon. “I love being challenged and working on new things. The decathlon is the perfect platform to try to expand on what I can do and just try to be the best person I can be.
“I think it’s the most adversity in track & field that I can put myself through. ... Every single time I step out there, it teaches me another life lesson.”
Odds & ends
•Longtime Caesar Rodney High boys’ tennis coach Jim Harvey posted his 300th victory in a 5-0 win over Salesianum on April 17. In 31 seasons, Harvey’s career record now stands at 303-86.
•Cape Henlopen High’s powerhouse girls’ lacrosse program will bring its 79-game instate winning streak to Woodside on Tuesday for a 5 p.m. showdown with unbeaten Polytech (9-0). The Vikings (7-3) beat the Panthers 17-7 a year ago.
•Tickets for the 40th annual Delaware Sports Museum Hall of Fame banquet are on sale through Tuesay. The event will be held on May 5 at the Chase Center on the Waterfront in Wilmington.
There are two downstate inductees in this year’s class — former Dover High track coach Bob Neylan and Cape Henlopen High field hockey standout Carrie Lingo.
Email Sue Holloway at email@example.com or go to www.desports.org for more ticket information.