With parents who excelled in baseball and softball in their youth, Tyler Weigand’s passion for baseball is probably located somewhere in his DNA. Mom Marikay Hegarty competed on the DePaul University’s softball team and dad David Weigand played baseball into his late teen years. For this Sauganash family, throwing and catching baseballs started early for Tyler, 13, and brother Ryan, 19.
Tyler particularly took to the sport at a young age. After being coached by both parents throughout his successful Little League career, he graduated to travel baseball, which currently means a spot on the Top Tier North Baseball’s14U team.
During COVID, the club organized safe team play when it could, in addition to Zoom drills and workouts, but the Weigands added training at home for Tyler. “We put up a net in our garage for hitting and throwing and encouraged him to run around the block to blow off steam,” explains Marikay. “We also have a weight bench and J bands so he can train year-round. We wanted him to be ready when the season started.”
When the season did start back up in the early summer, Tyler was more than ready. Unfortunately, his elbow was not.
He played well in a scrimmage game and again in practice the next day. However, in a practice on the third day, he threw from shortstop to first base and immediately gripped his arm.
"I noticed that he was acting oddly but it all happened so fast," says Marikay.
After the next throw, he winced in pain and fell to his knees. The coaches retrieved him from the field and recommended medical attention right away. Marikay took him to a nearby orthopedic immediate care facility but quickly realized that his injury required an expert specializing in sports medicine.
Getting the Best Care
“Right there in the parking lot I googled ‘best sports orthopedic care in Chicago’ and was impressed with what I read about Dr. Brian Cole of Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush,” she says. “I got on the phone and was thrilled to get Tyler an appointment within days.”
During the appointment, Dr. Cole reviewed Tyler’s x-ray and explained that he had a fracture of the end of the humerus on the inner side at the level of the elbow.
"I told him that I had to play and pitch again," says Tyler. "Dr. Cole understood me, so I told him, ‘let’s go!’"
After passing the required COVID screening test, Tyler’s surgery at Rush Oak Park Hospital was a success. Dr. Cole’s team was in regular touch with his parents and explained that during surgery he fixed the fracture and additionally moved the ulnar nerve to protect it during his recovery.
Following surgery and rehab, Tyler and his parents focused on what caused the elbow injury and what could prevent another one from sidelining his baseball career. Based on conversations with Dr. Cole and his team, they concluded that there were most likely three culprits: overuse, an improper throwing technique, and a rapid growth spurt.
Dr. Cole recommended Tyler visit the Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush Sports Performance Center in Lincoln Park which takes athletes from post-physical therapy to peak performance. He explained that the specialists there would help him identify throwing deficits, re-learn proper form, and condition his entire body to prevent further bone or soft tissue injuries.
“This made sense to us because Tyler had grown four inches and gained 25 pounds in a year,” Marikay explains.
Today, Tyler continues his visits to the Sports Performance Center and implements a morning and evening joint health routine. “Tyler’s trainer Patrick told him to remember to brush his bones twice a day,” Marikay jokes. “He has helped him 100%.”
Tyler is now back to practicing with his team, attending hitting sessions and can throw as much as needed. He is looking forward to incorporating baseball into his future, whether as an MLB player or a sports broadcaster.
“Tyler is on his way,” Marikay says. “He’s going to be just fine.”