Exclusive: Injured Orange High School football player speaks about recovery

HILLSBOROUGH, NC (WTVD) -- Two months after suffering a traumatic head injury, Thys Oldenburg wants you to know he's pushing through his recovery.

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The Orange High School junior varsity football linebacker is challenging himself to 50 pushups a day - a goal he hopes to achieve by year's end.

For weeks, Thys lay unconscious in a hospital bed from a drug-induced coma. Oldenburg suffered a brain injury during a game against Durham's Hillside High School.

After several brain surgeries and weeks of rehab, Thys returned home just before Christmas.

He was welcomed with cards, letters, and posters from family, friends and strangers wishing him well. The 15-year-old said the messages keep him motivated.

"They all inspire me to get better and heal up," he told ABC11. "Work out and get stronger. Even when I'm hurt."

WANT TO HELP? GoFundMe to help Thys

His routine now consists of physical and speech therapy.

The road to recovery is at times difficult for Thys. He admits his memory is not what it used to be - especially when it comes to remembering what happened.

"It's really frustrating," Thys said.

ABC11 asked Thys whether he desires to play football again.

"Of course, next year. I'm playing next year. For sure," he said, then added, "If (mom) lets me. But I hope she will. I really do."

But right now, Thys' mom, Jan Oldenburg, is not thinking about football.

"We're staying in the present and focused on today," she said.

Her new full-time job is making sure her son recovers.

Part of that is keeping him encouraged and surrounding his bedroom with signs of the community's love, support and prayers.

"We are doing everything we can to get him better," Jan said. "He is getting better."

Thys has a doctor appointment later this week to check on his head. The family expects to know more about his condition following that appointment.

He has not returned to school. Right now, Thys is being homeschooled.
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