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first_img Published on February 6, 2020 at 1:25 am Contact Mitchell: [email protected],On Feb. 5, 2019, Dean Dordevic sat in an Atlanta cab when he received a call from his son. Dean could tell by the voice on the other end that it wasn’t good news. Hours earlier, Dordevic jumped for a loose ball in the Ensley Athletic Center during practice. A teammate simultaneously rose for the ball, and the two collided in the air, crashing down at the 30-yard line.“I thought you guys should know,” Dordevic said into the phone. “I broke my foot again.”The Colgate loss grounded him, but it was also his final low point. When Syracuse started to win — beating Albany and Army — the redshirt sophomore began to embrace his time off.It may sound “nuts,” but Dordevic is thankful he hurt his foot, he said.All Dordevic wanted was to walk five steps, to not scoot around or have his partially protected foot freeze in the Syracuse winter. He just wanted to put two shoes on. But he knew a second surgery was the right decision. Dordevic couldn’t continue to play on a broken foot like he did his entire freshman year.It was difficult to commit to that second surgery days before his sophomore season, but Dordevic’s past recoveries ensured Dean that his son wouldn’t stop working. During a high school game, Dordevic was struck in the chin by an opponent’s stick and blood spurt everywhere as a gash opened up. Dean was sitting in the stands beside a family friend, an emergency room doctor, who went down to the field during halftime.“Sew me up,” Dordevic said. Without an anesthetic, the doctor stitched his chin before Dordevic went back onto the field to play the second half.“He’s the kind of person who puts a belt in his mouth, gets on the field, plays and doesn’t complain,” Dean said.The day after Dordevic re-injured his foot, he came out of the training room and Syracuse’s former offensive coordinator, Kevin Donahue, pulled him aside. He needed to look at the offense as a coach would, Donahue told him, inspect each puzzle piece individually.Dordevic learned not to “give a crap about the guy with the ball.” He learned to view the game from a 30,000-foot point of view, his father said. Dordevic used last season to take his game to the next level — a level above 15 games started, 15 goals and 5 assists as a freshman. He learned that beating his man doesn’t necessarily mean he had the best shot. In the offseason, Syracuse installed a new offense under Pat March, and Dordevic feels like he knows it better than the old one.Throughout his recovery process, Dordevic and athletic trainer Troy Gerlt didn’t look at his recovery as getting back to 100%. It was a series of milestones. First, he could hobble around the house. Two weeks later, he could walk on crutches. Then one crutch, then on an underwater treadmill. Finally, Dordevic was in a boot for two weeks before returning to shoes.Coaches used Dordevic to motivate the rest of the team, Gerlt said. The trainer said everybody in the Syracuse facility probably knows Dordevic — the guy who spent countless hours parking his scooter and throwing a lacrosse ball against the wall.“I was away from it so long I kind of felt like I was caged,” Dordevic said. “I was almost like a caged animal.”,Dordevic gained more than 15 pounds of muscle and will play on the man-up unit this year, something rarely done by righties, he said. In his freshman season, Dordevic sparsely went to his left hand, assuming Division I defenders would exploit his offhand. After a season of southpaw wall ball, he doesn’t care which hand he uses.In mid-August, Gerlt drove Dordevic to a foot specialist. He knew what they were going for, but getting cleared completely still hadn’t sunk in. After the appointment, Dordevic started to cry, just like he did in the Carrier Dome locker room six months earlier.After a full calendar year between initial surgery and being cleared, Dordevic was back. Again. He wanted any opportunity to get back on the field with his teammates. In the fall, he was rushing in practice and going too hard in scrimmages, he said. SU head coach John Desko could tell how anxious the redshirt sophomore was.The first day back from winter break in January of 2020, Dordevic was excited for something as trivial as the team’s run test. It was a new version, and Dordevic knew he was in shape despite nerves. But as he ran back-and-forth, planting on his foot and reaching down to touch the lines, Dordevic was just grateful to be out there.“People have it way worse than me breaking my foot,” Dordevic said. “I used that almost as motivation, but more …” He paused.“Thankfulness.”Cover photo by Elizabeth Billman | Asst. Photo Editor,Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment. Comments Dordevic gained more than 15 pounds of muscle and will play on the man-up unit this year, something rarely done by righties, he said. In his freshman season, Dordevic sparsely went to his left hand, assuming Division I defenders would exploit his offhand. After a season of southpaw wall ball, he doesn’t care which hand he uses.In mid-August, Gerlt drove Dordevic to a foot specialist. He knew what they were going for, but getting cleared completely still hadn’t sunk in. After the appointment, Dordevic started to cry, just like he did in the Carrier Dome locker room six months earlier.After a full calendar year between initial surgery and being cleared, Dordevic was back. Again. He wanted any opportunity to get back on the field with his teammates. In the fall, he was rushing in practice and going too hard in scrimmages, he said. SU head coach John Desko could tell how anxious the redshirt sophomore was.The first day back from winter break in January of 2020, Dordevic was excited for something as trivial as the team’s run test. It was a new version, and Dordevic knew he was in shape despite nerves. But as he ran back-and-forth, planting on his foot and reaching down to touch the lines, Dordevic was just grateful to be out there.“People have it way worse than me breaking my foot,” Dordevic said. “I used that almost as motivation, but more …” He paused.“Thankfulness.”Cover photo by Elizabeth Billman | Asst. Photo Editor On Feb. 5, 2019, Dean Dordevic sat in an Atlanta cab when he received a call from his son. Dean could tell by the voice on the other end that it wasn’t good news. Hours earlier, Dordevic jumped for a loose ball in the Ensley Athletic Center during practice. A teammate simultaneously rose for the ball, and the two collided in the air, crashing down at the 30-yard line.“I thought you guys should know,” Dordevic said into the phone. “I broke my foot again.”The Colgate loss grounded him, but it was also his final low point. When Syracuse started to win — beating Albany and Army — the redshirt sophomore began to embrace his time off.It may sound “nuts,” but Dordevic is thankful he hurt his foot, he said.All Dordevic wanted was to walk five steps, to not scoot around or have his partially protected foot freeze in the Syracuse winter. He just wanted to put two shoes on. But he knew a second surgery was the right decision. Dordevic couldn’t continue to play on a broken foot like he did his entire freshman year.It was difficult to commit to that second surgery days before his sophomore season, but Dordevic’s past recoveries ensured Dean that his son wouldn’t stop working. During a high school game, Dordevic was struck in the chin by an opponent’s stick and blood spurt everywhere as a gash opened up. Dean was sitting in the stands beside a family friend, an emergency room doctor, who went down to the field during halftime.“Sew me up,” Dordevic said. Without an anesthetic, the doctor stitched his chin before Dordevic went back onto the field to play the second half.“He’s the kind of person who puts a belt in his mouth, gets on the field, plays and doesn’t complain,” Dean said.The day after Dordevic re-injured his foot, he came out of the training room and Syracuse’s former offensive coordinator, Kevin Donahue, pulled him aside. He needed to look at the offense as a coach would, Donahue told him, inspect each puzzle piece individually.Dordevic learned not to “give a crap about the guy with the ball.” He learned to view the game from a 30,000-foot point of view, his father said. Dordevic used last season to take his game to the next level — a level above 15 games started, 15 goals and 5 assists as a freshman. He learned that beating his man doesn’t necessarily mean he had the best shot. In the offseason, Syracuse installed a new offense under Pat March, and Dordevic feels like he knows it better than the old one.Throughout his recovery process, Dordevic and athletic trainer Troy Gerlt didn’t look at his recovery as getting back to 100%. It was a series of milestones. First, he could hobble around the house. Two weeks later, he could walk on crutches. Then one crutch, then on an underwater treadmill. Finally, Dordevic was in a boot for two weeks before returning to shoes.Coaches used Dordevic to motivate the rest of the team, Gerlt said. The trainer said everybody in the Syracuse facility probably knows Dordevic — the guy who spent countless hours parking his scooter and throwing a lacrosse ball against the wall.“I was away from it so long I kind of felt like I was caged,” Dordevic said. “I was almost like a caged animal.”center_img Nabeeha Anwar | Design Editor He sat in the locker room while everyone around him slid on their shoulder pads and laced their cleats. His teammates walked onto the Carrier Dome turf while he sat in his stall. Everyone was getting ready for the game, for the 2019 season. But not him.Tucker Dordevic put his face into his hands. He started to cry.“This is a nightmare,” he thought. “How did this happen? Again.”Dordevic hadn’t played a college lacrosse game in 271 days. He played his entire freshman year on an injured foot and spent the fall recovering from a mid-August surgery. He was back, healthy, but three days before Syracuse opened its 2019 season against Colgate, the day before his 20th birthday, Dordevic learned he would have to do it all over.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textTeammates came up to him in the locker room after the game. “You’re good,” they’d say. He was forced to watch from the sidelines while Colgate, a team that finished 4-9 in 2019, stunned Syracuse in its own building. Maybe he could have helped, Dordevic said. But he couldn’t. Sitting in the locker room before that game was the mid-point of his 500-day absence: surgery, rehabilitation, re-injury and rehab once again.“A little part of me was like ‘I just failed my team,’” Dordevic said.After two operations on his right foot within six months — and one missed season — Dordevic will be at the center of a Syracuse offense built around him — an offense he told his mom will lead the nation in goals. He said he’ll help SU “kill teams” by averaging 20 goals per game. Dordevic was one of the country’s best freshman midfielders in 2018, but used all of last season to refocus, build muscle and work on his left hand. Now, the Orange need Dordevic to just stay on the field.As a freshman, Tucker Dordevic scored 15 goals in as many games. Josh Shub-Seltzer | Staff Photographerlast_img read more

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