MERIDEN — It’s not every day that buses full of football players dressed in jerseys and shoulder pads roll up to MidState Medical Center.
But the Platt High School football team wanted to do whatever it took to support senior outside linebacker and wide receiver Chase Bessler, who was hospitalized last week with an infection that developed after he was cleated on the ankle on Nov. 15.
After Platt defeated cross-town rival Maloney High School in the Stoddard Bowl on Nov. 21, players and coaches stopped by the hospital to visit and celebrate with Bessler, who was hospitalized from Nov. 18 until Thanksgiving Day and had to watch the Maloney game from a hospital bed.
“I was very happy and excited,” Bessler said about the visit. “I didn’t know they were all going to rush to the hospital.”
“From what he said to me, it was a feeling he's never felt before,” Bessler’s mother, Yolanda Prioleau, said. “He was just so emotional because he wanted to (play against Maloney) because this is his senior year… He kept saying these are my brothers… and they proved it that night.”
The entire Platt team was bused directly from the field to MidState after the game, and senior players and coaches visited with Bessler for about 10 minutes. They even took a picture with Bessler while holding the Stoddard Bowl trophy.
“He was super excited,” Platt Head Coach Jason Bruenn said about Bessler’s reaction. “The smile on his face said everything.”
Chantal Ridlon, an assistant freshman football coach at Platt, helped Bessler watch the Maloney game in his hospital room through a live stream. Bessler and his mother said they weren’t expecting teammates and coaches to visit after the game.
“The nurse comes into the room and says ‘there's a bus that just pulled up’, and I’m saying to myself ‘there's no way’ and then the elevator opened and they're there and still in their uniforms,” Bessler’s mother said.
Bessler left the hospital on Thanksgiving and was able to cheer from the sideline during the Panthers 12-6 win over Naugatuck in Tuesday’s Class L playoff game — the program’s first playoff win since 1997. Bessler said he returned to practice Wednesday and he fully expects to play in Platt’s Class L semifinal game against Maloney on Sunday at Falcon Field.
Bessler said he’s “very glad” to get a second chance at playing the Spartans.
Bessler’s mother said she was overwhelmed by the support Bessler’s teammates, coaches and classmates showed while he was hospitalized for five days.
Bruenn showed up at MidState only about 10 minutes after Bessler was admitted around 7:30 a.m. on Nov. 18, Prioleau said. Classmates and teammates texted and visited Bessler each day last week, including Thanksgiving.
“I’ve never seen anything like that before,” Prioleau said.
Bruenn said the team wanted Bessler to know “we were supporting him and we missed him.”
“He’s a great kid and it’s just unfortunate it had to happen (the week of the Maloney game), but hopefully we’ll be able to get him back out there this week,” Bruenn said.