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Though not the same, Landon will get better

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  Exactly one year ago Tuesday (Sept. 13, 2010) a 16-year-old kid by the name of Landon Carl Hochstetler was tragically struck by a speeding vehicle while rollerblading near Strawberry Lake.

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Now Landon's tragedy was heard about by most of the town, so there isn't really any point in going over the whole story again, but being a friend of Landon's (and a hockey teammate) I felt it would be respectful to wait a while to write about him.

Tuesday at school, I was leaving the library to head back to study hall, and for the first time since the accident, I saw Landon. He was heading in as I was leaving.

Though what I saw made my heart sink, seeing what a miraculous thing God had done just to bring him back to school was an inspiration.

I met Landon for the first time, not at the ice rink, in fact not even around town, but during a little league baseball game.

In fact, it was my first little league game ever, and Landon (who was the ace pitcher for the Red Sox) was not only the first pitcher I faced in little league, but was who my first hit (a double to right field) came off of.

It was ironic. He also happened to be the last pitcher I faced that season. The Red Sox were the Cinderella story that year, after only racking up two wins the whole season, they went in to the playoffs in the last seed.

I played for the Rockies that year (we went 12-3) and after they upset the No. 3 seeded Astros, they faced us in the semifinals. The pitching matchup that game was Landon vs. myself, and with one out in the bottom of the sixth, I came up with the tying runner on second, losing 3-2.

Landon had a 3-2 count on me, and he ended up striking me out (my only strikeout throughout my whole little league career) and the Red Sox won.

They went on to lose to the top-seeded Athletics 7-6 in extra innings (basically because Landon was unavailable to pitch because he threw a complete game against us).

It wasn't until the winter of 2008 that I saw Landon again.

It was Bantam hockey tryouts, and there was a new kid on the ice I didn't recognize. This kid could fly (I'm talking fastest on the ice) and it wasn't until I read his name on the Bantam A roster that I found out, not only was it this kid's first year of hockey, but it was Landon.

It wasn't just the fact he was a good player that made everyone like him. It was his attitude on and off the ice. Landon never had a complaint, let alone anything less than a smile when he was doing anything involving hockey.

When I heard about what happened to him last year, I didn't really know how to respond, except to check on his status every day.

I was constantly on Landon's Caringbridge web page, and though it came down to the doctors saying they could do nothing more, he overcame the odds and is still on his strong road to recovery.

Though Landon might not be the same as he was physically, I have no doubt in my mind his attitude hasn't changed at all, and that is what keeps me convinced he will only get better and better as time goes on.

Jonah Bowe is a junior at Detroit Lakes High School.

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