February 8, 2014
Like countless Olympic hopefuls and winter sports enthusiasts around the country, Noxen native Lewis Hackling is no stranger to injury. The 19-year-old Noxen native has been playing hockey with younger brother, Hunter, since he was just 4 years old. He played for the Little Flyers for three years and competes in the Northern State Junior Hockey League. He’s had two serious concussions and just last month took a puck to the mouth.
When Hackling suffered an injury during a December 2011 game, however, he faced a whole new set of challenges. A student at Lake-Lehman High School at the time, he played in the 2011 Casey Classic where he collided with another player and fell. He skated to the bench and then went back out on the ice, but when he tried to turn, his right knee gave way. An MRI revealed that he had injured his right ACL.
In February 2012, Hackling had surgery to repair his damaged ACL and began physical therapy at Heinz Rehab in Wilkes-Barre the very next day. After more than a month away from the sport, he was frustrated with his injury.
In addition to the three weekly therapy sessions, Hackling worked out at home, practicing the exercises demonstrated in therapy.
Always the competitive athlete, Hackling pushed back. Once he was strong enough, his therapists took the training outside, running laps of the parking lot.
The partnership between Hackling and his therapists and their combined dedication to getting him back to full health paid huge dividends for him. By June, he was taking his first tentative steps on the ice. By September, he was back to playing competitive hockey.
“The doctors said I would be out for nine months but I was back skating in six months,” Hackling said. “I couldn’t have done it without them. It was hard, but I loved therapy.”
Hackling is now a pre-med student at Marywood University. Most nights of the week you can find him at the Coal Street ice rink, practicing alongside Hunter and his Wilkes-Barre Miners team mates.