Conditions + Treatments
My name is Nick Cucchi and I am a high school junior from Tampa, Florida. I am on the baseball team at A3 Academy (HS) in Florida. I committed to play baseball at the University of South Florida right after my freshman year of high school.
In June of 2022, I was playing at the Junior National Showcase at East Cobb in Atlanta, Georgia. I am an outfielder and had finished the throwing portion of the showcase and maxed out. I was already pretty tired but I decided to go on the mound the next day to throw my scheduled inning. I felt pretty good during my warm up and struck the first kid out. I really relied on my off-speed pitches and was using my breaking ball way too much. I was throwing good pitches, but the way I was doing it was not safe.
On the strikeout pitch to the second batter of the inning I felt my elbow snap. My whole forearm and my last two fingers immediately went numb. It honestly didn’t really hurt that much in the moment, but I felt scared because I had all the symptoms of a UCL tear. I have had other friends do the same thing to their elbow and I knew something was wrong. I immediately walked off the mound and talked to the PG athletic trainers. They referred me to an orthopaedic doctor in Atlanta and I was lucky to get in almost right away. I had an MRI done and the results came back with a full detachment.
I was then referred to Dr. Jeff Dugas at Andrews Sports Medicine in Birmingham. Dr. Dugas performed a UCL repair with an internal brace and he was amazing. Thanks to the great care I received, I was able to get back out and start up again with my throwing and hitting programs. The recovery process was mental at first, and it took a lot of physical rehab to fully recover. When I had surgery I was upset because I had to give up playing baseball for a while. Also, we were going into the summer which is the big season where you can really showcase your talent. I had to miss that because of my injury.
Even though I was sad I had to miss and basically start all over, I am still grateful that I get to use this as a learning process. Since I had to start slow, I was able to go back and work on things that I struggled with on the field and improve. The surgery was a refresh and allowed me to continue to emphasize working on areas of my game where I needed improvement.
My coaches, as well as the physical therapists at Advanced Rehabilitation, where Dr. Dugas referred me, were great resources along my recovery journey. I now back to 100% full strength and fortunately, I am having a really strong season this spring both on the mound and at the plate.
I am thankful to God, my coaches, athletic trainers, physical therapists, and Dr. Dugas at Andrews Sports Medicine for helping me achieve victory over injury!