Lion guard Joe Schneider gives up one sport to return to another
After every game, every practice, the pain worsened.
The toils of being a starting quarterback were literally beating Joe Schneider into the ground, and his back was taking the brunt of it.
Eventually, the cause and consequences from the injury came to a head.
A stress fracture had developed around the Lansing sophomore's spinal column near the end of the 2011 football season.
The injury would stick with him over the next nine months, and ultimately, force him to choose between two loves — football or basketball.
"It was very hard," Schneider said. "I love football. I just decided it was the best decision for me though, because basketball's my favorite sport."
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The date is now Jan. 2, 2013. The Lansing boys' basketball team sits at a perfect 7-0 and in position to make another run at returning to the state tournament for the third straight year.
Leading the Lions is Schneider, who's 12.7 points per game average is a team high. The junior has been on the varsity basketball squad all three of his years at Lansing High.
However, that streak almost crumpled just last season.
Throughout his sophomore campaign, Schneider suffered major back pains due to a stress fracture from football that caused him to miss most of the basketball season.
"It was terrible," Schneider said. "I hated watching, having to sit and watch my team. Especially with us having so much success, you just wanted to be a part of it."
The back injury plagued him all season. Eventually, the Lion star went through extensive physical therapy.
"It was about a month and a half of a back brace; physical therapy for about a month and a half and then activity for a little bit," Schneider said. "I slowly started to get back into the routine of things.
"It was real tough because after the back brace, my whole core was real weak. Physical therapy was real tough. When I got back, I was definitely a lot slower. I lost a lot skill wise too from sitting out so long."
Despite the struggles, Schneider was able to overcome the pain, thanks in large part to his support system at home.
"My parents always tried to keep it positive," the junior guard said. "They told me it was all going to end okay and I'd be back healthy sooner or later."
Sports, and the injuries that come with them, was customary for the family. Schneider's older brother, Calvin, led Lansing to the Class 5A state semifinals during his senior year in 2011. Joe was a freshman on that squad.
"He always jokes around that he taught me everything I know," the younger Schneider said, "but really, without him I would not be where I'm at now. He helped me through a lot."
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In the future, the Lansing junior is hoping to make the jump to the next level and play college ball. He is already drawing interest from several Division I and II programs.
But that will have to wait for another day. Presently, the now healthy Lion has only one goal currently on his mind — a state title.
"I think we definitely have the talent," Schneider said. "We just have to play together as a team and buy into coach Briggs' system. That and defense will help us to a state championship."