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Warriors Sports

Costigan: A Warrior and his armor

Posted Thursday, November 11, 2010 by LaCrosse Tribune
Jim Costigan isn’t worried about his broken back. He has armor. It’s uncomfortable. It restricts his breathing. But he’s used to it.

No, it’s not chain mail. Costigan was diagnosed with a stress fracture in the L-5 vertebra last June and he had two options for recovery: Do nothing for five months or wear what is called the Boston Brace.

“It’s plastic and it’s hot and really uncomfortable and it cost $3,000,” Costigan said.

He chose the brace, which he has to wear at all times.

“It goes from the start of my ribs down to my pelvis bone and from top butt to shoulder blades,” Costigan said. “Right away it was uncomfortable. The first week I was like, ’This is going to be a long five months.

“It took awhile to figure out what position to sleep in. First day, I couldn’t sit up straight.’’

Last spring Costigan, a physical cornerback for the Caledonia High School football team, injured his back during  track.

“It’s not something you’d expect,” said Costigan, w ho ran through the pain during state track, in which he participated on two relay teams that took third and eighth in the finals. “Here, I start sprinting and that’s when I break my back.’’

At first, of course, Costigan was shocked and worried about his senior season.

“He’s able to play, but we honestly weren’t completely sure he would be able to play or not,” said Caledonia coach Brent Schroeder, whose team is preparing for Luverne at 7 p.m. Friday in the first round of the MSHSL Class AA state playoffs.

Five months later, “He’s fine now,” Schroeder said.

Schroeder doesn’t worry about his cornerback.

“We’ll put him out one-on-one with their best guy and we can just leave him be,” Schroeder said. “He’s our shutdown corner.“

Costigan is fast, physical and a student of the game.

“You can’t tell at all he’s injured out there,” teammate Josh Gran said. “Though he’s got a bad back, he’s still the first or second fastest kid on the team and one of the hardest hitters though he’s a corner.“

He’s also one of the most prepared. The shutdown corner watches film of his opponents. He goes into each game knowing who he’ll be matched up against on the edge and studies that receiver’s tendencies.

If he’s going to be on a few different receivers, nothing changes. He still grabs the tape and brings it home to watch. He just has more guys to pay attention to.

By game time, he just lets instincts take over.

He doesn’t think about reinjuring his back. The doctor said as long as he wears the brace he should be OK and that’s all Costigan needed to hear to play without a conscience.

The 6-foot-1, 175-pound corner with a broken back actually feels more indestructible now than if fully healthy.

“It’s almost like a weapon,” Costigan said of his brace, his armor. “I don’t feel much.“

Costigan rarely comes off the field. He’s in at wide receiver and plays on every  special teams unit.

The armor may make him feel indestructible but it doesn’t help his rarely leaving the field.

“It restricts your breathing,” Costigan said. “I can’t think the last football game I’ve had a full breath in. That’s the hardest thing now. I can’t get a full breath.“

And if that’s the hardest thing, opponents should probably be a little discouraged. He does, after all, have a broken back

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