Churchill senior overcomes staph infection, looks to start this season
Livonia – When Livonia Churchill senior Ian Kesteloot steps on the football field he appreciates every moment.
Whether it’s a game, practice or even simply conditioning, Kesteloot is excited to step on the field because there was a time not too long ago when he couldn’t even take a step.
Nearly two years ago everything was going great for Kesteloot. He had just had a big game as a running back for the Churchill junior varsity and went with his siblings to his grandmother’s place for a sleepover before she left for a trip.
That’s when everything changed.
“I woke up in the middle of the night and I was really thirsty,” Kesteloot recalled. “I went to get up and I could not get up. I tried getting up and I ended up using crutches to get around the house. I thought maybe it’s just cramps or something from the game because it was the first game I actually started and I ran for a lot of yards so I was like, it’s just soreness.
“I woke up again in the middle of the night because I was hurting so bad. I called my buddy. I said, ‘I don’t know what’s going on. Do you get usually this sore?’ Because he’s the starting quarterback. He’s like, ‘Yeah just shake it off man, it will be gone by tomorrow.’
“I woke up again in the middle of the night and I was like, I can’t do this. I called my mom to come pick me up and we went to (the hospital). They thought I had a broken hip.”
Tests revealed Kesteloot had a staph infection and a torn muscle in his hip.
He later ended up in the intensive care unit with pneumonia, a 106 degree temperature and his kidneys on the verge of failing.
“Three days later my running backs coach and like six of my buddies came to visit me and like after that it was smooth riding,” Kesteloot said.
Kesteloot battled through it, but still had a long road to recovery. He was in the hospital for two weeks and was regulated to a wheelchair once he was released.
Through physical therapy he was able to build his strength back up and was able to return to the football team for his junior season.
“The first time I put on cleats and stuff, even conditioning I was thankful to even be able to walk,” Kesteloot said. “Honestly, when I was in the hospital I thought I was a goner. It was bad, it was just really bad. I didn’t think I was going to be able to walk again. It was just awful. Then coming out here, we did conditioning and I was just thankful to do conditioning.”
Kesteloot admitted he wasn’t likely 100 percent during his junior season and finally felt like he was fully recovered in December.
The coaching staff asked Kesteloot to switch to fullback after last season. It’s a change Kesteloot embraced. He added 20 pounds in the offseason and is ready to take on the new challenge.
He’s expected to start at fullback and see time at linebacker this season.
“Ian’s a tough kid and he’s a fighter,” Churchill coach Bill DeFillipo “He got back and he’s making every moment count. He had some taken away so he’s one of those kids that understands nothing is guaranteed in life and when something is taken away you got to work to get back into it. He’s worked extremely hard over the last couple years to get back to where he’s at now.”
The experience also changed Kesteloot off the field. He said his grades have improved and he has plans on going to college and majoring in engineering, or possibly joining the U.S. Marines engineering program.
“After that my academics went up. I used to be really bad at homework and all that stuff,” Kesteloot said. “After going through that, I was thankful to even be alive still. Now I’ve been doing a lot better and trying to focus on school. It was like a wakeup call.”
Kesteloot’s mother, Heather Flack, also noticed a difference in him and is proud of the person he’s become.
“I think it made him grow up a lot and just see things differently,” Flack said. “Not that family hasn’t always been No. 1, but it just brings you closer together and makes you realize everything you have. I think with kids these days, they just don’t get that, especially at this age. To be put in a situation like Ian was, I think it definitely opened his eyes to understanding, what’s the most important thing.
“He needs to set priorities and do the things that you love because in the blink of an eye it can be taken away from you. All that hard work he did before, he had to learn how to do that all again to get back.”
Churchill is seeking a third consecutive state playoff appearance and will open the season at home against Monroe on Friday.
Kesteloot is looking forward to a memorable senior year and Flack is excited to see it unfold.
“I’m just so proud of him for everything that he’s done,” Flack said. “The dedication that he’s had to put in. Extra time going to the gym. Do the workouts at football and then coming home and going to the gym. Just being dedicated to getting back and working hard, I just know it’s going to be a great year and truly the best is yet to come. As his family, we’re so excited for this year and just to watch him be amazing because we know he is. That’s exciting for us.”