Hot Springs standout running back and middle linebacker Kane Lawson never had time to mull over inspirational sports cliches when his high school career became a revolving door of injuries and rehab.
Lawson’s list of injuries includes two torn labrums on both the left and right shoulder that required surgery and a non-football related injury he experienced between his freshman and sophomore year, when he fractured his pelvis in three places chasing cows on a four-wheeler.
None of these injuries prevented him from playing the sports he loved, football and wrestling. They just made him better.
Now, Lawson will have a chance to fulfill what his father and football coach Jim Lawson referred to as a “life-long dream:” to play college football. Kane Lawson is currently signed as a non-scholarship player with NAIA football team Western Montana University.
Despite experiencing the injuries, Lawson, said he never wavered from his ultimate goal of playing college football.
“When I was hurt, it didn’t really affect me from my goals,” Kane Lawson said. “I just have to keep working hard, put a lot of time into rebuilding my strength and get in the right mindset. You always have to stay positive and keep working hard towards your goals.”
Lawson’s reoccurring shoulder problem began in 8th grade according to his father and Savage Heat head football coach Jim Lawson.
“Kane had shoulder problems that started his 8th grade year and continued through his freshman season,” Savage Heat coach Jim Lawson said. “At the time, his doctor just didn’t want to do surgery. He tried to rehab as much as he could. His sophomore year comes through and he enters the season with a really bad shoulder and just kind of fought his way through football and wrestling.”
During his freshman season, Kane Lawson had to cut his wrestling season short because of his flaring shoulder problems, Lawson ended up starting the wrestling season late, and eventually won divisionals his freshman season.
“A shoulder is very important for wrestling and he had a good freshman season in football,” Jim Lawson said. “In wrestling, he won a division title and made it to state. He actually missed part of his freshman year wrestling and probably only wrestled half of a season because his shoulder was really bad. He dislocated his shoulder before an away match and we were working on him trying to get his shoulder to pop into place.”
Lawson’s wrestling season was cut short after experiencing the injury.
“He ended up having surgery and he worked on it between his freshman and sophomore year,” Jim Lawson said. “He hurt himself goofing around chasing cows and broke his pelvis in three places. He was in the hospital about a week and probably came back and played about half of the season. His shoulder could have ended his career it became so bad.”
At the start of his junior season, Kane appeared as if he would experience an entire season “injury-free,” according to Jim Lawson.
“His junior year in football everything was going well and probably a month into wrestling season when I believe his record was 20-0, he dislocated his shoulder,” Jim Lawson said. “He tried to continue wrestling from there and over time, he dislocated or ended up tearing his other shoulder. He was forced to have surgery two years in a row. He had surgery on on each shoulder in Feb because he tore his labrum in his shoulder.”
For two consecutive seasons, the Lawsons waited for an opportunity to participate in state at wrestling that never came.
“We were always waiting for the next chance to go to state and it just never came,” Jim Lawson said. “As a parent, we were always crossing our fingers to stay healthy and as a parent, you never want to see your kid get hurt.”
When senior season arrived, Kane Lawson entered the football season and wrestling season and added a new sport of track to his list of sports.
Kane Lawson played on a historical year for Hot Springs football as they captured the Class-C, 6-man Montana State Championship title. Lawson capped his career with over 70 rushing touchdowns and finished his senior year with 120 career tackles.
Kane Lawson even finished second at the Montana State wrestling state championships in Billings to end his wrestling career on a positive note.
“He wasn’t able to do track until this year and he is now always rehabbing his shoulder,” Jim Lawson said. “We got all of that fixed and he rehabs really hard. He can’t go to camps this time either because he is always rehabbing and could never make it through a complete year. During his senior year, everything just came together and he was a big part of our state championship.”
Kane Lawson said he had to modify his approach to rehab, now an ongoing process, in order to return to form.
“I had to change a lot of things that I did, especially during football and wrestling season,” Kane Lawson said. “I had to learn how to control my arms and tackle someone. I just had to make sure I held the player I was tackling in tight. I had to change the style in which I wrestled and play foible as well as train harder.”
Kane Lawson said he had to overcome the initial fear of getting hurt after his first surgery.
“When I had that first shoulder surgery, I was scared to do anything,” Kane Lawson said. “I didn’t want to risk anything. I didn’t want to get hurt again and it took a while to trust what I could do. It was really hard at first and eventually I was able to trust myself with a lot more things.”
After the surgeries, Kane Lawson said he was able to overcome his initial trepidation.
“After my second surgery, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” Kane Lawson said. “I went through all of the rebuilding my senior year of football and I felt relieved. I became determined to play college football. It is something that I always wanted to do forever and when I was able to get through my senior year, I overcame my injuries. I am extremely excited to play football and carry on my family tradition.”