JACKSON TWP. Signing up to play football is essentially signing up for an injury or two at some point during your career.
Playing two other sports throughout throughout the school year ratchets up those injury chances further, but even then, the maladies that have beset Jackson senior defensive back Nick Shatrich are out of the norm.
Shatrich, a three-sport athlete, has been part of some great moments and accomplishments during his high school career, but he’s also made more trips to the training room and doctor’s office than most.
"My first injury was sophomore year during the Hoover game. It was my first game I started at receiver and after my first touchdown pass, I tore the MCL in my right knee during the next kickoff," Shatrich said.
After that injury, Shatrich was sidelined for nearly eight weeks and that ended his football season and slowed the start of his basketball season. He spent most of his time rehabbing with the team trainer and when he got back on the court, he work a bulky knee brace he describes as "awful."
That injury, it turned out, was just the start.
In the spring, Shatrich broke his thumb during baseball season and that both ended his season and kept him out of commission for the start of lifting for football. Two significant injuries within a single school year would have a lot of players wondering how they’d incurred so much bad luck, but the most daunting injury was still to come.
After a relatively healthy junior football season, Shatrich was a reserve for a Jackson basketball team with designs on a state championship. He made it several weeks into the season before the injury bug struck again. During a game against Canton McKinley, Shatrich went up in the air and came down in pain.
"I tore three ligaments in my ankle during the McKinley game and was out until the playoffs," he said. "I really don’t know why these injuries happen, but I just jumped for the ball, came down and landed on it wrong."
Although injuries have affected him in all three of his sports, Shatrich said basketball is where he sees the impact the most because it’s a game of near-constant motion, without many pauses between plays. After his leg injuries, he came back to find out that he wasn’t as fast as he was prior to getting hurt.
What helped make the recovery process easier was the amazing success the basketball and baseball teams had last season. Both squads won state championships and while spending so much time rehabbing and rebuilding his strength after the injuries wasn’t fun, being able to hoist two state title trophies and enjoy two community celebrations for the championships made it a bit easier.
"I call it a blessing that I was on those teams even though I didn’t play much, I did get close to some of those dudes who were going on to do big things," Shatrich said, noting that two of his best friends are Kyle Nicolas and Dillon Dingler, who played on both title teams and are playing college baseball this year.
His senior season may or may not see that same level of success - he was also part of the school’s first football playoff appearance since 2004 as a junior - but it has already featured a first for Shatrich that came on opening night against East. Midway through the game, he leapt high in the air in front of an East receiver and hauled in an interception, providing an extra possession for his team in a close game
"It was awesome … a good feeling because I’d never had one before," Shatrich said. "I never had an opportunity to get an interception, but I got one that night and after that it was great feeling to beat East because there was a lot of hype for them having nine Division I athletes for college recruiting."
Shatrich pointed to Jackson head coach Tim Budd has helped him through the injury process by reminding him not to let those injuries creep into his mind on the field. Whether he’s tired or hurt, Shatrich said, Budd reminds him that football players almost always deal with some level of pain during the season.
The hope is that the rest of his senior year will pass without any additional injuries, but in the event they do come, Shatrich knows he can handle what they send his way.
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