All it took was 13 seconds for Rochester Knighthawks fans to get really amped up for the 2016 season. On the eve of Training Camp, forward Cody Jamieson posted a link showing off the fruits of his offseason rehab.
The video, uploaded by his trainer Connor Hitchcock, featured Jamieson sprinting, pushing a sled and pulling weights across the turf at Sports Specific Training (SST) Hamilton (WATCH). In those briefs seconds, it was obvious that “Jammer” was back from an Achilles tear he suffered in early May.
“I have been running and training for a while,” said Jamieson. “It has been a long road and a long summer off, but it’s getting closer.”
The morning before the team began practicing and fitness testing, Jamieson received the news he was waiting for from the doctors at University Sports Medicine.
“I went to physicals and got the okay from my surgeon and got physically cleared. But I am going to take it slow,” he said. “There is no sense rushing it back, jeopardizing myself and having any setbacks. Even though I am cleared, I am going to take it slow and make sure everything is done right.”
Off the turf, Jamieson has been working harder than ever. His weekly schedule includes three days at Players Paradise Sports Complex with Hitchcock and Steve Bodanis, and two days at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena. During his hour and 15 minute sessions, Jamieson works on his upper and lower body, while spending two full days running and improving his agility.
“I started the day after surgery and had a lot of people who helped me along the way,” said Jamieson. “Our trainer Stephen Lobsinger helped me the whole year. Now that I am in the training stage, Steve Bodanis and Connor Hitchcock are running me through the paces, giving me some tough workouts and getting me ready. SST Hamilton tries to keep the balance of not over working my Achilles, but still pushing it and strengthening it.”
It was the long hours at the gym that allowed Jamieson to be back on the turf during the opening weekend of Training Camp in late November. He was unleashing his trademark twisters on the goalies and working with the lacrosse staff, and was still very much a presence on and off the floor. Having Jamieson back was something that his teammates and coaches were thrilled to see.
“Cody and the way he progressed, I’m really excited about that,” said Knighthawks transition man Jordan Hall. “We were thinking it would be later in the year, but to get your best player to come back is awesome.”
“Looking back at it last May, we weren’t expecting this,” said Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen. “It’s been a lot of work, but it’s paid off so far. It’s going to be baby steps for him, but getting that report this time of year is great for him, great for us.”
Jamieson, who won the 2014 NLL MVP Award, will return for his sixth season in the National Lacrosse League in 2016. Since he burst onto the scene in 2011, Jamieson has been one of the top point producers in the NLL. The former first overall pick has posted 164 goals, 263 assists and 427 points in 83 games. In 2014, he had a banner year with a career-high 108 points and 72 assists, which set a single-season franchise record. Jamieson also tied his best season with 36 goals en route to his first league MVP honor. He capped off the season by leading the Knighthawks to a record third straight Champion’s Cup.
“He makes people around him better,” said Knighthawks forward Dan Dawson.
That has certainly been the case as Jamieson has collected more assists than goals in four of his five seasons. In 2015, he was once again near the top of the scoring charts, which earned him an NLL All-Pro nod for the third time in his career (2012, 2014-15). He was also named the 2015 Knighthawks Offensive MVP after leading the team with 36 goals and 92 points. He finished the season tied for the league-lead with four game-winning goals, and was only one of two Rochester players to record a point in all 18 regular season games.
With 200 points in his last two seasons, Jamieson is itching to get back for the upcoming season. He wants to be there for his teammates. It’s what has motivated him the past five months after suffering a season-ending injury on May 16th in Game One of the East Division Finals.
His journey to recovery began on the car ride home from Rochester after tearing his Achilles in the first half of the playoff game against the Toronto Rock. After googling his injury, he was apprehensive at first, but then was as determined as ever to return to the Knighthawks’ lineup.
“I was discouraged for about five minutes until I realized I am going to work my butt off to get back and be better than what I was,” he said. “That’s what I am striving for and that’s why I am taking things slow.”
Jamieson’s comeback bid has also been fueled by the fans. He said he received countless messages on Twitter and Instagram motivating him to keep pushing, especially when he needed it the most. His biggest supporters, however, were his family. His fiancée, Michelle, was a superstar as she managed the kids and their house, while also caring for Cody.
“My family is everything. I was bed-ridden for the first three weeks and she held the fort down while I got my feet under me,” said Cody. “It was my parents, my friends and my whole family with all the support that they gave me. They were encouraging me to stay strong and have positive thoughts.”
Jamieson knows he is close to playing again, which has him excited about the 2016 season. The night he returns to the lineup will be an emotional one as he begins his quest to get back to the Champion’s Cup.
“It’s going to be great,” he said. “I didn’t like how last season ended for the team or myself, so I’m going to do what I can to make it right.”