The semi-circle scar on his head only tells half the story.
The part about being sucker punched, knocked out and blindsided. The part about having a stage three concussion. The part about having his jaw wired shut for six weeks and not being able to eat. About missing out on summer vacation…missing out on soccer.
The recovery tells the rest of the story.
One night nearly destroyed Josh Feenstra’s life.
Late Saturday night, May 10, Feenstra went to a party with some friends. The current CU sophomore was just coming off his freshman season with the men’s soccer team. When they arrived, a brawl broke out inside the house and some of his friends went inside to stop it. Feenstra decided to stay outside and wait for his friends to come back.
Unfortunately, the ugliness followed Feenstra outside, unsuspectingly. He was standing on a street corner, a short distance from the house where the party was, trying to distance himself from the situation. Suddenly, someone ran up behind him and punched him in the side of the head. As he fell to the ground his head slammed against the sidewalk, causing internal bleeding.
“Somebody hit him incredibly hard,” soccer coach Mark Bell said. “It’s mindboggling that someone would be so malicious.”
After being rushed to the hospital, doctors said he had a stage three concussion and immediately operated on him to stop the bleeding.
That’s what caused the scar. That and 65 staples holding it shut. Doctors also wired his jaw shut and put two plates and four screws in his chin.
“I don’t really remember any of this,” Feenstra said. “This is just what I’m told. It’s kind of weird. I didn’t see it. I didn’t expect [to be punched] or anything.”
When Bell found out about the situation, he rushed to the hospital.
“My first thought was that he was not going to make it, and if he did make it, he would never be the same,” Bell said. “I’ve seen bad stuff happen, but nothing like this before. At the very best, I didn’t think he would be the same kid.”
Feenstra was in the hospital for six nights before going home for the rest of the summer. Even then, life wasn’t the same. He couldn’t eat or drive, and his parents had to be with him 24/7 in case of an emergency. His summer was ruined.
“The worst thing was that it took away so much of my summer,” Feenstra said. “I couldn’t go tubing or [jet skiing]. I couldn’t play soccer at all. I was just questioning when I would be able to get back to doing stuff I would normally do. Soccer was a big concern. I was concerned about playing soccer, not only this year, but ever again.”
“He was really devastated that he wasn’t going to be able to play soccer [this season],” Bell said. “He’s a solid, solid kid – guys love him. You appreciate having him on the team because of his good character.”
Feenstra has been cleared to play soccer again. He plans to rejoin the team next season, while continuing to serve as the team manager now. But Bell said he’s concerned Feenstra will struggle mentally once he gets back.
“It’s sad because he’ll never get to play the same,” Bell said. “It changes things. He’s always got to be worried about getting a shot to the head.”
“Josh stood up for the right thing,” Bell said. “He suffers the worst consequence, yet through all of this he’s been the one that’s shown the most character.”
Authorities never discovered who hit Feenstra. The accepted story was that an unidentified neighbor ran across the street and punched him. But that’s not what Bell thinks. He’s convinced someone from the party stepped outside and hit Feenstra. Either way nothing was ever proven, and Feenstra is moving on.
“Initially I wanted to know what had happened,” Feenstra said. “I wanted to know who it was [that hit me] right then. But now it’s fine with me that they didn’t find the guy. I’m pretty much over it. It’s not that big of a deal to find the guy for me. I’m just glad that I’m alright.”
“He realizes the situation he’s in and he’s not bitter about it,” Bell said. “Then you come out of it a better person. I appreciate that part of Josh and what he still brings to the team.”
Feenstra may have to live with the scar on his head for the rest of his life, but he’s not going to let it scar his mindset.
“He always has a smile on his face,” Bell said. “To see him go from the hospital bed to where he is now is amazing. The fact that he’s alive and able to recover is quite a blessing. He’s a hard worker and an encourager and it’s great to have him on the team.”
“I love soccer and playing it and being around it, so any time I’m out there with the guys I feel good,” Feenstra said. “That helps a lot. It’s fun. It sucks not being able to play, but staying involved with the team makes it easier.”