Football season is back in swing for high school players across the state, but this season is a special one for an Eden Prairie senior who thought he might never play again following a concussion that sent him to the intensive care unit.
Like many teens, Gab Maddern said he felt invincible until he suffered a brain injury 18 months ago that sent him to the hospital and sidelined him for the remainder of the season. Now, he's returning to the field with some hard-hitting advice.
According to strong safety, recovering from the concussion was like starting from scratch. He had to catch up after missing an entire year of football, but he says just being back on the field is special.
"I love playing football," Maddern said. "It doesn't matter if I'm starting or fourth string, just as long as I'm playing football."
For a while, Maddern thought he may never play again after he started having trouble with everyday tasks.
"It was very frustrating, sitting out in the bleachers watching the team play," he recalled -- especially since the team made it all the way to state last year. "It sucked."
Despite the frustrations, Maddern says he is fortunate to be playing in an era with heightened awareness of concussions and their effects, saying if he had been injured years ago, he would have suited up right away to get back on the field.
"I could have easily taken another hit to the head and been done," Maddern said.
Now that he's back on the field, Maddern is using his experience to help his fellow teammates be aware of and upfront about head injuries.