Gateway: Sports

After elbow surgery, Gig Harbor freshman goes lefty

As the innings piled up for Bodi Tisch over the years in Little League, the excited ballplayer thought nothing of it.

He was just doing what he loved.

But that use eventually caught up with him. The cartilage in his elbow weakened and his tendon snapped last year, leaving lingering questions about Tisch’s baseball future. He knew he wanted to play high school baseball.

But his mettle would be tested. In March of last year, Tisch had reconstructive surgery on his right elbow. Now a 15-year-old freshman at Gig Harbor High School, Tisch was told by his doctor that he wouldn’t ever be able to play baseball again. But the freshman was determined to get back on the diamond — even if it meant making a drastic change in his game.

"During a checkup with my doctor, I asked, ‘What if I throw with my left arm?’" Tisch said.

His doctor didn’t see any reason to object.

So Tisch is back on the field, playing for the Gig Harbor High C-team and slowly learning how to throw with his left arm. Surgeons had to take the tendon out of his wrist, and take parts of his knee to reconstruct his right elbow.

While the surgery has had little effect on his swing, switching throwing arms has been a big adjustment.

"It’s hard," Tisch said. "You know what you’re fully capable of; you used to be able to throw across the field. Now, I can’t make it halfway. It’s humbling but it’s really hard. It’s an experience."

Tisch spends his time at first base now, a position that limits the numbers of throws he has to make in a game. Throughout it all, he’s maintained an optimistic perspective.

"I’ve been pretty positive through it," he said. "Sometimes I’m jealous of my friends’ arms. I’ve been grateful than I’m able to throw. I’m pretty happy with what I’ve been able to do."

His faith has also helped him stay positive. Tisch, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints, said he received a blessing from the church bishop before his surgery.

"They came over — I would sit in the middle of the room, they’d lay their hands on my head and give me a blessing of safety," Tisch said. "They said I’d still be able to play."

There were times when Tisch had doubts. Watching his club team, the Federal Way Knights, excel while he sat on the bench was tough.

"I went to almost every game and wasn’t allowed to play in a single one," Tisch said. "It was just kind of rough having to watch."

The team went 27-3 and qualified for a national tournament, which made it even harder. Luckily, Tisch is still able to hit the ball well.

"My arm is getting a lot better," he said. "At one point, it was like, ‘Why am I doing this?’ But the majority of the time, I’m just happy I’m here."

Tisch said he’s learned a great deal about persistence due to this setback.

"(It’s about) just being able to keep powering through it," he said. "Being able to work hard. Having the desire to play again. The passion of the sport has been driving me. It’s a mental sport. I’m just happy I’m able to have the strength mentally and the optimism to keep pushing through and working out my left arm to get it stronger every day."