The Hour—Fairfield County, Conn.—January 27, 2009
Tim Romano isn't quite ready to give up playing football. Not yet.
Even with a college diploma awaiting him in June and a career in the business world on the horizon, the former Staples High School gridder isn't ready to hand in his playbook.
Instead, with one year of eligibility remaining, Romano has decided to play one more season of football at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y.
Of course, one could hardly blame him for wanting to return after the season the 6-foot-3, 230-pound defensive end had for the Division III Dutchmen this past fall. Romano was among the team leaders in tackles with 54 while leading the Liberty League with five and a half sacks.
"I had a torn labrum, a torn cartilage, and an impingement of the hip," he explained. "It's when the femur bone is rubbing against the ball and socket in your hip."
Hip problems are nothing new to the Romano family. Tim's sister, Kelly Romano, a former standout basketball player at Staples now playing at Fairfield University, recently experienced a similar setback.
"She just had a double hip operation," Tim explained. "She had pretty much the same thing, an impingement and a labrum tear. It must be genetic. My little sister, Lauren, who plays at Staples now, recently started complaining about her hip.
"Kelly and I both went to the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. They had a pretty good doctor there, Dr. Struan Coleman. If it wasn't for him, I probably wouldn't have played this year."
Romano first hurt his hip midway through his sophomore season.
"I actually injured it in week four, but I kept playing through the end of the season. I didn't know I hurt it," he said. "I went to an orthopedic around here to get an MRI, but it didn't show anything so I just kept playing and it got worse.
"When the season was over and I finally went to New York City to have it checked out, Dr. Coleman said he doesn't know how I was ever able to play."
A couple of months after the season, in February of 2007, Romano had the surgery performed.
"It was similar to the surgery Chase Utley of the Phillies just had done," he said. "They went in there and shaved down the femur bone and repaired the labrum."
Romano thought he would have enough time to rehab and be back on the field for the 2007 season.
"That's what I was hoping for," he said, "but other people had different ideas. I personally thought I was close to 100 percent, but you never know with things like that. I can tell now that my hip is getting even stronger, so maybe it was best to wait."
That meant, however, missing his junior year, which wasn't easy.
"It was real tough, especially because coming into the year I was probably going to start at defensive end," Romano said. "We were switching to a 4-3 defense and I moved from outside linebacker to defensive end. But I wasn't ready when the season started.
"Our first game was under the lights, too, and just to go out on the field and not have my pads on was tough."
When it was apparent he would miss the entire season, Romano quickly tried to make a positive out of a negative.
"I went to every single practice and every game," he said. "Plus I was lifting and working out so by the end of the season when everybody else was beat up, I was in great playing shape. I already had a base. All my lifts were geared for my hip to get better.
"Plus it really motivated me being able to watch from the sidelines. It just made me more determined to get back."
Of course, there was always a chance if the hip didn't heal properly that Romano would not play again.
"That thought did cross my mind," he admitted, "but I always was determined to get back on the field no matter what.
"Even at the banquet the other night, one of the coaches got up and told everyone how serious the injury I had was and how there were whispers that I would never play a down again. But he said he never doubted I would be back."
Sure enough, when spring football practice rolled around, Romano was indeed back on the field.
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