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Stockhammer ready for return from sidelines


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Published 2005-09-14T00:00:00Z”/>

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Laurence Tognetti<br>Staff Writer

Michael Stockhammer came to the United States from Germany to play basketball on a big level. College of the Siskiyous recruited him for the 2002-2003 season, and he helped lead the Eagles to a 22-10 record and a conference championship. He was also named to the all-conference team.

Going into the 2003-2004 season, Stockhammer was referred to as a “defensive menace” and was supposed to help lead the team. The future looked bright for the Hamburg native.

That changed in February 2004, when Stockhammer came down hard on his left ankle during a practice game toward the end of the season. Though X-rays revealed there was no break, Stockhammer was forced to hobble on crutches, thinking he would be ready in case the Eagles made the playoffs.

But Stockhammer wasn’t able to help the team defend its conference crown as the Eagles dropped their final three games of the season, needing to win two of the three to clinch a playoff berth. Little did he know that it would be more than a year and a half before he would again set foot on a court in competitive play.

“I never had an injury that would keep me out for so long,” Stockhammer said.

At the end of the season, Stockhammer returned to Germany for the summer and consulted his own doctor to continue his rehabilitation, which had gotten more intense because of the severity of the sprain. By that point, Stockhammer was not able to move his ankle and was in serious jeopardy of missing his next season.

Learning of the sidelining injury, some schools chose to drop Stockhammer from their transfer lists, which forced the athlete to look elsewhere for athletic, as well as academic, opportunities. Chico State’s Puck Smith was aware of Stockhammer’s potential before the athlete was forced to sit out and chose to take him in.

“He’s a warrior, and we thought someone of that caliber would enhance our season, and we still feel that way,” Smith said.

Thinking long-term for Stockhammer, Smith gave him the option of sitting out the 20042005 season, giving the ankle time to heal for the following year. Stockhammer chose to be medically red-shirted, all the while continuing his rehabilitation to help bring the ankle back to full ability.

The Wildcats went 1810 for the season and tied for third in the California Collegiate Athletic Association. Smith isn’t sure whether Stockhammer would have been able to influence the outcome of the season had he been eligible to play.

“There was too much doubt about whether he was going to be healthy enough to get through the whole season,” Smith said.

Stockhammer was able to practice with the team while wearing an ankle brace, but he was not allowed to play a single second in an actual game. If he did, his eligibility would be revoked.

At this point, Stockhammer’s main concern is keeping his ankle strong by doing daily exercises such as calf raises, stationary bike and running with the team.

“Right now, I’m just stepping away from the contact thing so as not to reinjure the ankle,” Stockhammer said.

Stockhammer continues to wear the ankle brace and says he is nearing 100-percent ability to play. The team is conditioning daily and is preparing for official team practices in October.

“I came here for a purpose,” Stockhammer said, “and thought I could help the team last year with all those seniors to make something happen.”

Laurence Tognetti can be reached at

<a href= “mailto:[email protected]”>[email protected]</a>

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        Stockhammer ready for return from sidelines