GROTON -- Around Groton-Dunstable High School, senior Bradley Zadrozny is known for his ability to finish as a forward on the Crusaders' hockey team. Hockey is not the only sport Zadrozny plays; he is also a member of the Groton-Dunstable baseball team. Zadrozny's baseball career went up in smoke freshman year during a throwing drill on the second day of tryouts.
Zadrozny popped up from his catchers' stance and fired the ball down to second, and the unimaginable happened -- his humerus broke.
Groton-Dunstable head coach Matt LeBlanc vividly remembers the moment Zadrozny's arm snapped.
"We were recording pop-up times on our catchers," said Leblanc.
"I was standing five feet from him when it happened. There was a pop, and I didn't think anything of it. It sounded like gear bouncing off of his body. When I turned back to look at Brad, he was holding his arm. I asked if he was alright, and he confidently and calmly said,
'I think I just broke my arm.'"
Zadrozny broke the same arm twice as a child and knew immediately what was wrong. He remembers contacting his parents from the office of the school's athletic trainer, Steve Kleeman.
"I called them from the bed in Kleeman's office," said Zadrozny.
"I told them I broke my arm, and I knew immediately it was the worst one out of the three. They said 'really? Again?' They (my parents) were originally going to let me sleep it off. We went to the X-ray and they told me that I needed to go to my doctor."
Zadrozny heeded the emergency room's advice and went to Lowell General Hospital to meet with an orthopedic surgeon. The surgeon's diagnosis was that a cyst on Zadrozny's humerus caused the bone to snap.
"A bone cyst is essentially empty space," said Zadrozny. "The empty space says there is bone there but there isn't. I broke it when
I was 5 and 6, had surgery, and they said it was fine. The doctor said that (the break) was like taking a chicken leg and twisting it until it snapped."
Zadrozny's doctor opted not to operate and placed the broken arm in a cast.
"The doctor said that because I broke my arm so much, putting it in a cast would do the same thing as drilling holes would do," said Zadrozny. "He let it fuse together and I had a full-arm cast for eight months."
Zadrozny sat out his sophomore season and returned as varsity team manager the following season; that is when the itch to play hit him.
"I realized if I was going to be there, I might as well play," said Zadrozny. "It wasn't worth it to just be there and watch. This year, I definitely wanted to do it one more time before I go off for college. I am just enjoying it. There is no pressure on me right now. I love it. I just come here and have fun."
When Zadrozny broke his arm the first two times, it hurt too much to throw right-handed. So he taught himself to throw lefty.
"I throw with my left arm now," said Zadrozny. "When I broke it the first couple times, I couldn't play righty. I had to throw lefty so I could play. I could easily throw (with) both. I am not ambidextrous; I just learned how to do it when I was young."
Zadrozny now serves as the Crusaders' designated hitter, and his catching days are over.
"I don't have to go in the field," said Zadrozny on being the Crusaders' DH. "Fielding was never my strong suit. I used to catch, but I can't do that anymore because I can't throw. It feels good getting back, and I can do basically all the things I did before."