A Queenstown cricket talent believes his successful battle against cancer has lifted his game.
Kevin Loggenberg, 17, who’s in the Otago under-19 training squad, was out of the sport for about 18 months after being diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in early 2013.
Diagnosed just in time, after waking up on Wakatipu High’s Year 10 Branches camp with a swollen neck and long sleeping bouts, he was admitted to Dunedin Hospital for three weeks.
He returned there for fortnightly chemotherapy sessions over six months, then took another year to regain his strength before resuming cricket about a year ago.
Kevin says he always believed he’d pull through but feared his cricketing aspirations might be jeopardised.
“I was just starting to get into quite high rep sides, but had to pull out, obviously.”
Instead, he says he came back stronger than ever, making the Otago Country under-17 team last season.
“I’m a bit tougher mentally, more resilient.”
Kevin also picked up his hockey stick again this winter.
He was named MVP at the South Island secondary schools’ hockey competition, scoring 10 goals, and played for Central Otago at the South Island men’s tournament.
His comeback was capped when he was awarded ‘outstanding all round sportsman of the year’ at the Wakatipu High sporting blues ceremony last month.
In his citation, principal Steve Hall stated: “He has had to endure serious health issues over his senior school years and he has displayed tremendous resilience to win that battle.’
Kevin’s immediate aim is to make the Otago under-19 team for next month’s national tournament – in an early trial he took a handy three wickets for 14 runs from five overs.
His next goal would be to make the New Zealand under-19 team for the U19 World Cup in Bangladesh.
He also has the prospect of three months’ cricket in England next year, and ultimately harbours hopes for Otago Volts and even Black Caps selection.
Meanwhile he continues to play senior club cricket, having broken into those ranks about five years ago.
Interestingly, in his native South Africa – his family shifted here from Durban in 2008 – he was a wicketkeeper-batsman.
However he’s tossed the gloves away and become a useful opening or first-change bowler, number four or five batsman and handy slips fielder.
“Since coming off the chemo, I’ve picked up on my bowling real well.”
Bowling at about 120kmh, and helped by his 185cm height, Kevin says he moves the ball in the air and off the pitch.
“I’m not too fussed with the pace - if I go to a higher level, I’ll pick up the pace.
“I feel like I’m improving constantly, always trying to up my game.”
While leaning towards cricket, Kevin says he’d still like to play hockey at a local and Central Otago level.
“It’s good for keeping my fitness up in winter.”