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If there’s any way a severe leg fracture can be turned into a good break, Giessen wrestler K.C. Brown found it.

Brown, a senior who won the 171-pound title at last week’s Western Sectional qualifying meet in Heidelberg, Germany, lost his junior year on the mat when he broke his left leg in a football game that fall. With his junior season on the mats shot, Brown decided to do more than just watch while he mended.

“Last year, the team had a sponsor who did not know how to wrestle,” first-year Giessen coach Bernard Sweigart wrote Wednesday in an e-mail.

“K.C., whose leg was severely broken — requiring surgery and pins — filled in at practice and coaches’ meetings as our school’s head coach.”

In the process, Brown glimpsed a possible future for himself.

“I loved it,” Brown said Monday by telephone about his coaching experience. “They always say that you either have the ability to coach or you don’t, and I found I had it.”

What he had yet to find out, however, was whether his leg would hold up.

“The first question I asked when I came out of surgery, was, ‘Will I be able to play football again?’ ” Brown said.

The answer was yes, but that recovery would take a full year. Brown jumped the gun and played soccer last spring.

“I couldn’t move around very well,” he laughed about his limping season in Giessen’s back line. “Guys would ask me why I couldn’t run.”

Brown continued at less-than-full speed during a summer spent playing German-American League football. By the time the high school football season began in September, however, Brown, an Eagle Scout and his school’s Junior ROTC battalion commander the last two years, had bounced all the way back.

“The injury was in the back of my mind, but after the first all-out hit, I forgot about it,” he said.

Turns out Brown forgot some other things, too, when wrestling season opened. A European placer as a sophomore, Brown lost his first two matches as a senior.

“I had been coaching, and that’s a very different perspective,” he said. “My first two matches, it was like I couldn’t react. I kept doing the same things over and over, not adjusting and not thinking. Against [Bitburg’s Daniel] Renaud, I used the same move three times, even though it didn’t work the first two.”

The cobwebs cleared, though, and Brown will take a 17-match winning streak into Friday’s opening round-robin match at the European championships. Brown said he’ll be on a mission there.

“I’m going to go all-out,” he said. “It’s the last tournament of the season. It’s my last tournament ever.”

As a schoolboy, that is. Brown said he plans to attend a community college in Binghampton, N.Y., as the start of his road to becoming a wrestling coach.

Sweigart thinks Brown, whom he asked upon taking over to act as an assistant in the wrestling room and at matside in tournaments, will be a good one.

“I sincerely hope that K.C. coaches in the future,” he wrote of his team leader. “His knowledge, experiences, ideas and leadership would give young wrestlers a wonderful environment for learning to wrestle.”


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