Hammond's Bjerre making triumphant return from injury

February 04, 2010

Hammond forward Brandon Bjerre is one basketball player who is absolutely, positively making the most of his senior year. At the same time, he's also making up for lost time.

After a promising sophomore season in which he averaged nearly 10 points, Bjerre missed his junior season after fracturing his lower back playing in the fall of 2008 - ending up in a full body cast for much of last winter.

After extensive rehabilitation - spending countless hours in a swimming pool, the weight room and on the court - Bjerre, 6 feet 4, is back at full speed and the Golden Bears, 13-3 overall and 11-2 in Howard County, are benefiting.

He's averaging 16.3 points and 11 rebounds, but, just as important, he has provided valuable leadership qualities that haven't gone unnoticed.

"It's been very rewarding," said Bjerre, who maintains a 3.7 grade-point average. "Last year was tough not being able to play and watching the team grow while I had to sit on the bench. This definitely shows the value of hard work. I found out if you keep working hard in what you believe in, stick with something, then success will come."

Hammond coach Karl Friedheim said Bjerre's commitment to the program has set an invaluable tone. It started last season when he still made most of the team's practices (he missed them only when he had a doctor's appointment) and continued the work he put in during the offseason to be the best player he can be.

"He's exactly what our program looks for in our seniors," Friedheim said. "Brandon is a life lesson. We found that out the hard way, but he has come out on the better side."

After the Golden Bears opened the season with three straight losses, Bjerre took it upon himself to get the team on track with a 31-point performance in a 70-42 victory over Wilde Lake on Dec. 14. Hammond has won nine more since, sharing the Howard County league lead with River Hill going into Wednesday's game at Howard.

"The week before was the worst I've experienced, and I just told myself the next one was going to be different," Bjerre said. "Everything flowed for us against Wilde Lake, and it hasn't stopped since."

Bjerre, who is interested in majoring in art, is still undecided on a college but is looking at a number of Division II and III schools with plans to continue his basketball career.

- Glenn Graham

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