Conner McCracken: The Comeback Kid (Athlete of the Month)


Conner ill in the hospital

Mitchell Rowles

Before Conner’s injury, he was a stud defensive/offensive lineman for the Clearfield Bison averaging six to seven tackles a game and eight sacks prior to his injury in week five against the Penns Valley High School football team. This inspiring story of the star athlete is one for Clearfield Bison Football history. Here is his story, in his own words:

“Week 5 game against Penns Valley on Sept 23, 2022. I made a routine tackle at the home game and what I didn’t realize is that I got nicked my elbow with Turf burn on my elbow; little did I know that this would have an impact on my life. Two weeks later, it’s week seven and the football team is going to be facing Tyrone, our hardest opponent of the year. Wednesday practice was an intense practice. Everyone was high energy and hitting hard. Well, during 1 on 1’s with the linemen, I was bull rushed when blocking someone. When they bull rushed me they hit their helmet off the interior side of my arm. It hurt at the time, but I didn’t think much of it. Bruises happen in the sport and aren’t a big deal. Little did I know that Turf burn I got two weeks back was infected with Streptococcus. This streptococcus would spread from my elbow, into my bruise, and develop into cellulitis.

The next day during school the bruise was starting to hurt I kinda ignored it and just planned on icing it after practice. During that practice I felt weak and it hurt so bad I couldn’t do my job or hold a block or anything so I decided about an hour in, with the trainer Sam’s, approval I took the rest of practice off and watched. I iced it and took some Ibuprofen. This helped a little but not a lot.

The next day it was Friday and game day; I felt terrible. I got sick during the night and had cold sweats. It was so bad I was thinking of not playing that game. However, Sam KT taped it and it felt better. I played the game and I did not play well. I only had one sack and like four tackles. During halftime I got the cold sweats again but I ignored it and played the rest of the game. We lost 21-14 to a really good team. However, after the game I went home and was up vomiting and could not hold down any food or water.

The next day I went to the hospital. They ended up sending me home and didn’t look at my arm; they gave me an anti-nausea and vomiting medicine. The pain of the arm at this point was killer. It hurt nonstop.

On October 11th at 2am I felt the swelling of the arm starting to go into my chest and making it hard to breath: I rushed to the ER and was admitted almost instantly. They gave me an I.V. and did some tests on me. They declared me septic with cellulitis and started giving me an antibiotic. Where they messed up is they gave me a steroid for a bacterial infection. This made the infection worse and it turned into necrotizing fasciitis. After feeling worse, I was transferred to Allegheny General in Pittsburgh. After spending two weeks in the hospital and having three surgeries, I was discharged and started the rehab process. The hardest thing was getting my range of motion back; once I got that back, I was back to normal and fighting to get my strength back. On December 6th, almost 2 months after first being admitted, I was cleared fully, and I am just now getting the strength back in my arm and starting to lift again.”

Conners goal was always to play college football and he still has the opportunity to make his dream come true. McCracken is currently in talks with many colleges to play college ball but has received one official offer from W&J, even with his injuries. He hopes to major in Kinesiology with an Exercise Science focus at his chosen university. This awe-inspiring story shows that anyone can make their dreams come true if they work hard to overcome any obstacles that life throws at them. Conner’s hard work and dedication to his passion and recovery is living proof.