Steinhoff’s Amazing Comeback

Bob Hogue
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Wednesday - January 09, 2008
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Kameron Steinhoff
Kameron Steinhoff

If you’re looking for the comeback story of the 2007-2008 high school sports season, it’s hard to top the story of Punahou basket-ball/football star Kameron Steinhoff.

A few short months ago, the wiry-thin Steinhoff - listed at 6 feet 4 inches tall and 187 pounds - was one of the top wide receivers in the state. In the first few games of the 2007 football pre-season, the senior star had made several big plays in leading the Buffanblu to the state’s No. 2 ranking.

Steinhoff was so impressive on the gridiron that he could go short or deep, over the middle or up the sidelines. Several of his biggest plays covered well over 50 yards.

But then came the Punahou-St. Louis game, a battle of No. 1 vs. No. 2, and the intensity level went off the radar. Steinhoff took a punishing hit to his midsection, a legal hit, but the result was devastating. Within hours, he was in the hospital having his spleen surgically removed.

“It was pretty scary, really a near-death experience,” Steinhoff recalls. “I was in the hospital for a week.”

With his family and friends praying for his recovery, and his medical team doing its job as well as any team around, Steinhoff ‘s competitive desire never waned. Within a few weeks, he was up and around and back at school. Coming back for the end of the football season was out of the question, so the challenge became: Would he be ready for the basketball season?

A year ago, Steinhoff was one of the main reasons why the Buffanblu had won the ILH basketball title and finished second in the state tournament. This year, his senior season, he wanted to be ready. “I love the game,” he says.

He also worked hard to prepare his comeback.

“Coming out of the hospital, I wanted to play so much. During football practice (when he was no longer able to participate in drills), I went to the gym and I shot around,” he says.

A few months earlier, while lying in a Honolulu hospital bed, it may have seemed incomprehensible that Steinhoff would be ready by the time the basketball pre-season started. But due to his own competitiveness, plus daily hard work and the quick action and follow through of his doctors, the Punahou senior was not only back on the court, but he was ready to lead his Buffablu team to the next level.

“I take my leadership role seriously,” he says.

Throughout the first weeks of this basketball season, Steinhoff has been leading by example. Punahou was the most-dominant Hawaii team during the pre-season and earned the No. 1 ranking in the state in all the local polls by early January.

In the late-December Merv Lopes Classic in Kaneohe, Steinhoff banged up against a number of Division I prospects that played for visiting Mainland schools, and he never backed down. He averaged more than 21 points in the tournament, including 27 in the title game against Our Lady of Good Counsel of Maryland, leading Punahou to a second-place finish.

A few days earlier, in the Punahou Holiday Classic, Steinhoff averaged a double-double virtually every night in leading the Buffanblu to the tournament championship over a number of other visiting Mainland schools.

His strong presence in the paint, along with the tough play of his teammates Dalton Hilliard, Robbie Toma, Manti Te’o and Trevor Crabb have made Punahou the team to beat in the ILH and all around the state.

Despite his wiry frame and his horrific injury, Steinhoff refuses to back off against any competition. His story is one of overcoming adversity and showing both mental and physical toughness and attaining great success.

Right now, he’s got to be one of the top candidates in the state for eventual Player of the Year honors, a fact that seemed totally off the table during those scary moments this past fall.

“All the hard work has paid off,” he says.

A few prayers along the way probably didn’t hurt either.


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