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Illinois State Pitcher Strikes Out Cancer, Plans on Returning This Season

Written by on November 18, 2021

Image courtesy of illinoisstate.edu

NORMAL, Ill.- When life threw us all a curveball in March 2020, Trey Krause was already behind the count.  

While the world dealt with the anxiety that came with the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Redbirds’ pitcher Trey Krause was already well underway with his own brave fight that was about to get a lot tougher in isolation. 

Only a month earlier, Krause had been diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma- a rare type of cancerous tumor located within leg bones that is not hereditary and can grow in anyone’s cells over time, without warning.  

Training for what would have been his upcoming freshman season, Krause began to experience difficulties and leg pains in conditioning. The Redbird baseball coaching staff had him go get it checked out.  

When head coach Steve Holm got the call with Krause’s MRI results and cancer diagnosis, he immediately called Trey and his parents to his office to tell them the life-changing news- something Holm has since called the worst situation he has been in as a coach. 

“I had no idea what to expect,” Krause said of his meeting with his parents and Holm. “I kind of thought he was joking, having my parents come and everything.” 

From there, Trey had no choice but to move back home to Wisconsin for chemotherapy treatment. Originally, he was worried about missing out on the season, classes, and memories with friends and teammates due to his personal need to isolate himself even before the pandemic. The introduction of the then-mysterious virus only made the situation scarier.  

“My health was at an all-time low,” Krause said. “I could not really be around people, because I could have gotten more sick from them. Then COVID came along, and I really could not see anyone. When you’re that low in your health, you really have no clue how a new virus could affect you.” 

In a matter of months, Trey had gone from a standard college freshman with a promising future in collegiate baseball to alone in a hospital, dealing with chemotherapy, recovery, and worries about his health while a pandemic continued outside.  

“It was a lot of days at the hospital alone,” Krause said. “Not seeing my family a lot, not having that support every night. I kind of had to get used to it.” 

 “It was difficult because I was planning to watch a lot of sports in my free time.” Krause joked, “and then there were no sports.” 

Despite all this, Trey bravely made it through and completed his final round of chemotherapy in mid-October 2020, returning to campus some two months later with a renewed gratefulness for his friends and life. 

“I couldn’t wait,” Krause said on his return to campus after completing chemo. “It made me feel normal, to become a student again. To be with my buddies, who wanted to see me more than anyone. It was huge.” 

Although he was back on campus, Trey obviously still needed to recover further before being able to return to the mound. He took the Spring 2021 season off as it pertained to actual pitching, but found a new joy in a different team position off-field. 

“Most home games, I was up in the press box running a stats program.” Krause said, “I was pretty involved in the team while not playing, and I enjoyed seeing the stats side to every game.” 

Years in the making, Trey is ready to hopefully get back on the mound this upcoming season. 

“There’s obviously a lot of ifs and speculation,” Krause said on the 2022 season. “As of now, I’m on a good path. I’m back to throwing 100%. Sometimes there’s uncomfort in the leg, but it’s been only a year since a pretty major surgery. I should be able to throw in the Spring.” 

They say to be a successful pitcher, you need to be mentally tough. After all, you’re alone on the mound and the pressure is on you. Staring down a batter, an issue out of your control, and all you can do is try to stay confident and strike the batter out. The same mentality can be applied to fighting cancer; Trey Krause rose to that challenge and through every complication, and now is back to doing what he loves full-time.

His advice for an athlete or anyone else going through something similar? Always take it one pitch at a time. 

“You never know when things will go up or down,” Krause said. “You never know when you’ll take a corner into something that’s really good for you, or if things will go down. Focusing on your day-to-day activities is the most important thing.”