RIDGEFIELD – When the helmet of a Hockinson player connected with Aidan Hundt’s leg during a Ridgefield football game, Hundt knew something was wrong.
“It’s like a Razor scooter to the shin, but 100 times worse,” explained Hundt, now a senior Spudder. “Immediately, it was like ‘Uh oh, this isn’t good.'”
That fall 2019 night, Hundt broke his fibula and tibia – the two bones in the lower half of the leg. He missed the rest of the football season and wasn’t fully healed as he prepared for a spring baseball season.
“There wasn’t a lot of confidence on that leg,” Hundt said. “I was going to go out and do the best I could but no, I was not ready at all.”
When the coronavirus pandemic put an early end to his junior baseball season, Hundt had extra time to recover. Now, he enters his senior season as the team’s starting catcher and a key bat in the Ridgefield lineup. He also committed to play baseball at Division III Crown College, based in Minnesota, this offseason.
While Hundt wouldn’t wish the injury on anybody, the hurdle has not deterred him from his goals and it’ has given him new perspective as an athlete.
“He’s really just had an awesome attitude about it,” coach Nick Allen said. “When kids deal with major injuries like that, mentally it’s a real challenge. He was so positive the whole time.”
That outlook throughout his recovery is a testament to the type of asset Hundt is for the Spudders. As a catcher, Hundt has to be a vocal leader. It’s one of the more challenging things for catchers to develop, he said.
The last time Hundt took the field for the Spudders, he was a sophomore JV player. Now, he’s counted on for much more.
“You know the fundamentals and basics,” Hundt said. “Once you get older, you realize you can use your voice and speak up. You control the field, so you just have to go do it.”
His relationships with the Ridgefield pitchers have helped ease the transition from underclassman to team leader. Derek Kropp and Easton Ortega were both on the KWRL team that went to the Babe Ruth World Series semifinals three years ago. Hundt was the catcher for Kropp’s no-hitter that week in 2018.
“Since the first day Aidan came into our program, we saw he had those leadership skills,” Allen said. “He knows when to get on them; he knows when to give them a pat on the back. That’s never been in question.”
His work ethic, too, was never doubted. After his injury, Hundt rehabbed tirelessly for five months to get ready for baseball season. While he wasn’t well enough to take many reps behind the plate, the Spudders were prepared to put him in the lineup last season.
It wasn’t until this past summer, more than nine months after the hit that snapped his leg, when Hundt felt comfortable again.
“One day I woke up and it was just an instant thing of ‘Oh I’m not hurt anymore,'” Hundt said. “It was awesome to all of a sudden feel like myself again.”
Hundt had some apprehension heading into the football season this year, particularly with a spot on a college baseball roster waiting for him, but everything went smoothly for the receiver. Now, he’s ready to make one last run on the diamond – and first as a varsity player – before heading off to the tundra of Minnesota, where he plans to study exercise science at Crown College.
“As a kid, that’s all you want to do: keep going as far as you can, play college, play pro,” Hundt said. “No matter how realistic those dreams seem, to make one of them come true, it’s such a big accomplishment.”