By Rob Kiser
It was not the journey Piqua two-sport standout Colton Bachman ever expected his senior year to become.
And while he certainly can’t say he wouldn’t have changed it — the son of Kirk and Anita Bachman can look back at amazement at how well things turned out.
Heading into his senior year, Bachman was coming off two football seasons where he combined for 575 yards receiving and five TDs on 40 catches — and at 6-foot-4 figured to be a big weapon for quarterback Rupert Delacruz.
In basketball, the Indians were coming off their second straight winning season — with Bachman scoring 20.6 points as a junior and 17.2 points as a sophomore, while pulling down more than seven rebounds a game in each season.
Bachman — who despite being a physical player in both sports had never suffered a serious injury— and was looking forward to a big senior year.
That all changed just before Piqua’s first football scrimmage on Aug. 7, running a routine drill in practice.
“We were just running a passing drill when it happened,” Bachman said about what would turn out to be a torn ACL.
He really didn’t have to wait for the diagnosis later that day.
“You could hear a big pop when it happened,” Bachman said. “Katie (Smith, the Piqua Athletic Trainer) came out. She knew at the time it was probably an ACL. We knew it was an ACL — we were just hoping it wasn’t.”
That led to what Bachman would describe as one of the worst weekends of his life — after the diagnoisis was confirmed — it seemed like his high school athletic career and senior year were over before it ever got started.
“It was horrible,” Bachman said. “I remember going over to grandpa’s house (former Piqua City Schools superintendent Duane Bachman) on Sunday. We all just sat around and talked and cried.”
Bachman’s emotional roller coaster took an upswing on the following day, when Bachman returned to the Beacon Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Center in Cincinnati and met with Dr. Timothy Kremchek.
Kremcheck is highly renowned for his work with athletes and a pioneer in the treatment of Tommy John Surgery.
The Bachman family was immediately impressed on meeting him.
“He made us feel as though Colton (Bachman) was his only patient,” Anita Bachman said.
Then, they received the best news possible.
Kremcheck said his group worked with high school, college and professional athletes playing with the same injury and that Colton’s season wasn’t necessarily over.
“He told us there was a possibility with rehab of me being able to play my senior year,” Bachman said. “That was great to hear.”
While thrilled with the news — which involved being fitted for a brace and having surgery after basketball season — Bachman’s parents had concerns about the risk he would be taking.
So, Kirk Bachman asked Kremchek what he would do if this was his son.
“I would do for my son what I think we should do for yours — get fitted for a special brace, look forward to intensive rehab at the center, play with the torn ACL and have surgery later,” the doctor answered.
Colton Bachman was excited to hear the news — even though Dr. Kremchek warned he would probably never be at more than 75 percent and any mis-step could end his athletic year.
“I just wanted to play with my buddies one last year,” Bachman said about his teammates. “I knew any play could be my last. I wanted to play basketball and decided I would worry about college later.”
Not that there was anything easy about it.
Not only did Bachman have to ice the the knee every night, he received Stim treatment on it from athletic trainer Katie Smith every day.
“I couldn’t have done it without Katie Smith,” Bachman said. “She helped so much and was also pushing me. She kept me going.”
Amazingly, Bachman was able to play in the Piqua football team’s season opener.
He ended up playing in eight of 11 games, catching 10 passes for 65 yards and helping Piqua to its first playoff berth since 2007.
But, the season was not without adversity.
He took a big hit in the home opener with Urbana and missed the next three games.
“That hit in the Urbana game — I tore my meniscus,” Bachman said. “Actually, I really thought that was going to be the end and I was going to have to have surgery after that. That was a setback, because I had felt like I was getting stronger up to that point.”
But, nothing was going to stop Bachman from his final season of high school basketball — and he had some added motivation after two 13-10 seasons. Starting point guard Storm Cook had moved before the season.
“After Storm (Cook) moved and I was injured, people didn’t think we were going to be any good,” Bachman said. “They were looking at us like just another 6-18 team, you know what I mean. It motivated the whole team and it definitely motivated me.”
The pounded a knee takes on the basketball is far more significant than it did in football — and even Bachman didn’t expect to make it through a 22-game season.
“To be honest, I wasn’t sure what I was going to be able to do,” Bachman said. “Basketball was a lot tougher on it than football.”
Neither was Piqua basketball coach Heath Butler.
“In the scrimmages leading up to the season, coach (Heath Butler) just said we will see how it goes,” Bachman said. “Even going into the Springboro game, I really wasn’t expecting that much.”
Piqua went on the road to play a Springboro team that would go on to win 18 games in the opener.
Not only did Piqua win 83-69, Bachman made seven of 12 3-point attempts and scored 25 points.
Two games later against Wapakoneta, he opened the game with a dunk as his amazing progress continued.
“Even before the Springboro game, I didn’t expect much,” Bachman said. “Coach (Heath Butler) said we will start the game and just see what happens. But, once it (the season got going), it was hard to stop. I still never expected to make it through a 22-game season.”
Not only did he, he averaged 22.1 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.4 assists.
Bachman led the Indians to a third-straight winning season and as the regular season came to a close, another goal appeared.
He was closing in on the career scoring record of 1,554 points by Mark Matthews — a family friend, who played with Kirk Bachman at Piqua.
“He was sending emails, joking with my mom (Anita) about it,” Colton Bachman said. “I started thinking about it the last game against Vandalia-Butler. I had a terrible game — and I told my dad, I am not going to worry about it anymore, I just want to go out and get some tournament wins with my team.”
The Indians did exactly that.
After opening the Division I sectional with a win over Beavercreek, the Indians knocked off Greenville for the second straight time.
In that game Bachman — who finished his high school career with 184 3-point field goals — got the scoring record on a 3-pointer in the first half.
“He (Mark Matthews) called me up after the game,” Bachman said. “He told me there was no one he wanted breaking that record but me. I thought that was pretty cool of him to do.”
Just as important to him was the win.
“I just want to keep playing with these guys (referring to his fellow seniors),” Bachman said after the game. “We are a brotherhood. We have a bond that can’t be broken.”
That sent Piqua to the sectional finals for the first time since the 2006-07 season — in fact it was the Indians first tournament wins since that season — but they ran into the top-ranked team in the state in Wayne, who ended Piqua’s season at 14-11.
Bachman, who earned All-GWOC North honors for the third straight season — then had the surgery on his knee four days later — March 1.
“There was more damage than they thought,” Bachman said. “I had a torn ACL, a torn meniscus and they had to do a bone graft. It was basically three surgeries and they got it done in one.”
Now, comes several months on crutches and a challenging rehab process.
Bachman, who hasn’t made his college choice yet, but is considering playing football and basketball at Wittenberg University — will not be at 100 percent for at least nine months.
“I think my parents are ready for me to make my college choice,” Bachman said with a laugh. “I will do that pretty soon. No matter what, I am going to have to red-shirt next season.”
Bachman, who finished his high school career with 1,568 points — would only change having the injury in the first place.
“That decision (to play and put off surgery) was one of the best decisions I ever made,” he said. “The doctor said I even exceeded anything he expected I could do. Thanks to my terrific parents, teammates, coaches trainer Katie Smith, Dr. Luna, Chip Hare, a lot of prayers and everyone associated with the athletic program at Piqua High School — and especially Dr. Kremchek and his staff, I can now rehab and hopefully be able to play at the next level.”
But, exactly how did Bachman overcome everything he did this season?
“I just think you have to believe you can do it,” he said. “Coach (Heath) Butler wouldn’t let up. He pushed me and my teammates pushed me to keep working hard. I couldn’t have done it without them. This is the hardest I have ever worked in my life.
“Having next year off will allow me to rehab and come back bigger and stronger than I have ever been. That’s the goal now.”
And after the amazing journey of the last seventh months, is there any doubt he will do it?
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.