“Do what you have to do to get to where you want to be.” This is the thought that fueled AJ as he recovered from spine surgery. “I kept telling myself, ‘Keep fighting, keep pushing through the pain,’ because I knew the start of ice hockey season was just a few months away.”
AJ was born to skate. By the age of 3, he sported his own pair of skates and at age 4, he was playing ice hockey. Over time, AJ played football, basketball and other sports, but ice hockey remained his first love. He never wanted to leave the rink. By age 9, he was playing on travel teams. His family shared AJ’s passion for the sport. His dad attended every game and as avid Flyers fans, the family has been season ticket holders for years.
The summer before his sophomore year in high school, an annual physical exam revealed a severe curve in AJ’s spine — scoliosis. This was surprising, as AJ had never experienced any pain or any problems when playing hockey. Initially, he saw a specialist about spine surgery. But the post-surgery outlook the orthopedic specialist described was bleak: He would never play hockey again. It was time for another opinion.