3.30 feldhaus

Sitting at home with his surgically repaired right leg elevated, Madison Central coach Allen Feldhaus watched as his team was handed a lopsided loss at home by North Laurel.

It was a painful experience — physically and emotionally.

"I stomached through that second half when we just laid there and quit and I told I told (my wife) Karen, 'I will be at practice tomorrow.' We are not going to lay down and quit," the coach said.

Feldhaus was, indeed, back in the gym the next day.

That quick return didn't come as a surprise to anyone who knows him well.

"I called him at halftime (of the North Laurel game)," Madison Central Principal Brandon Fritz said. "Believe me, he was coaching from home."

Even though he was confined to a wheelchair, Feldhaus returned to the sidelines when the Indians (21-9) traveled to Montgomery County on Feb. 25. He's been there ever since, leading Central to its first 11th Region Tournament title in eight years.

The veteran coach will be on the court again, with a large boot on leg, when the Indians face Ballard in the opening round of the Sweet 16 on Wednesday afternoon at Rupp Arena.

Game time is set for 5 p.m.

"I was surprised he missed two games, but the doctor was pretty stern with him and let him know there were some things he needed to do," said Fritz, who played for Feldhaus and was also on his coaching staff.

It's been a remarkable recovery from a bizarre injury.

As sleet and ice began to completely glaze over Madison County on Monday, Feb. 15, Feldhaus drove to Madison Central High School.

"He was trying to get into the office," Fritz said. "That's just him. He goes into the office every day."

Feldhaus tried to enter the back door of the gym.

He didn't make it.

"I was talking to Clinton County coach Todd Messer (on the phone)," Feldhaus said. "I had my soft drink in my left hand and hit a patch of ice and got twisted all around. I heard it snap. I was afraid to look at it. Drink went one way, the phone went the other."

Luckily, Feldhaus was able to scoot over and retrieve his phone.

"If I wouldn't have had my phone, I would have been out there a while because there was no one else stupid enough to come over here that day," Feldhaus said.

His first call was to his wife.

She urged him to contact Fritz, who lives not far from the school.

"He was already out and about. He got to me within two or three minutes," Feldhaus said of Fritz.

By the time the principal arrived, Feldhaus had been able to push himself up against the door.

It was obvious immediately the injury was very severe.

"He was really pale and sweaty," Fritz said. "We got his shoe off and it was swollen pretty good already."

Fritz retrieved a pair of crutches from the training room and Feldhaus brought to his office and then he taken to Lexington.

The Central coach broke the lower part of his fibula and sustained extensive ligament damage. A two-hour surgery, which including inserting a plate, was required.

"They put in the same appliances they put in (Miami Dolphins' quarterback) Tua (Tagovailoa)'s hip and if everything goes fine, they won't have to go back in and take anything out," Feldhaus said.

Feldhaus wasn't out long.

And when he came back, the coach had a special helper.

Ron Eden, who worked in the Madison County school system for years and has been a friend of the Feldhaus family for decades, eagerly took on the responsibility of pushing the coach in his wheelchair during games.

"He thought it was his job, that's why I wanted to get out of (the wheelchair) as soon as I could," Feldhaus said of Eden with a laugh. "He looked more like he needed to be in that chair more than I did."

Ironically, Eden was in a wheelchair during another special moment in Madison Central's basketball history.

"When we won the region in 1999, Ron had undergone a knee replacement," Fritz said. "I remember he always had on this white sweatsuit."

Being in that chair didn't slow down the notoriously fiery Feldhaus.

And it certainly didn't affect his voice.

"I never sit down. So, that was kind of rough on me," Feldhaus said. "One of officials came over and told me that they would let one of my assistants stand up if you need something. I just said, 'No. You will hear me.'"

The wheelchair eventually was replaced by a stool.

During the 11th Region Tournament, though, Feldhaus didn't even rely on that very much.

"He has gotten a little more confidence in it," Fritz said of the coach's injured leg. "The doctors told him it was fine, as long he could tolerate the pain. He is moving a little bit more and more each game."

The pain fades a little more with each each game.

Winning helps, of course.

The coach's broken leg has been just one of the many bits of adversity the entire team has had to overcome this season — including several bouts of COVID-19 related issues, injuries, ugly losses and the death of a player's father.

The Indians battled through it all.

And that has made this trip to Rupp Arena even sweeter.

"It's just been one thing after another," Feldhaus said. "At the beginning of the season, we thought we had a chance to do this. Things just didn't do our way the first couple of months. But, I could see it with those seniors. They were kind of on a mission."

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