Injury Focuses Teen's Career Perspective

Monday, February 23rd, 2015, 8:15 pm

When doctors told Jarrett Mauk he’d torn his anterior cruciate ligament playing basketball, his heart sank, as any athlete’s would.

Basketball Player“You hear of all those NBA players that never come back from a torn ACL, or they just aren’t the same,” Mauk said. “But luckily, I had a good surgeon and a successful surgery. I’m back to 100 percent now. It’s crazy.”

Along his road to recovery, Mauk found a new dream for himself. He became fascinated with the work done by his surgeon at The Orthopaedic Institute, Dr. Spencer Romine, and others like him.

Mauk now has his heart set on becoming an orthopedic surgeon himself, and he’s running toward that goal at full speed with two sound knees.

Mauk, son of Clyde and Sunni Mauk of Paducah and a senior at McCracken County High School, is the Paducah Bank Teen of the week. Each Monday, The Sun features a different teen selected from nominees submitted by school counselors across western Kentucky and southern Illinois. This spring, a Teen of the Year will be chosen from the weekly winners. The Teen of the Year will receive a $2,500 scholarship.

Medical school had always been a possibility in Mauk’s mind, but until he had his experience under the surgical knife, that’s all it was – a possibility. After he tore his ACL, however, he started reading whatever he could get his hands on about ACL injury, treatment and recovery.

After a certain point, his injury no longer scared him, it intrigued him. He found the surgical procedure especially interesting.

“Their plan was to take part of my hamstring and use that as the graft to repair my ACL,” Mauk said. “Your hamstring has to be a certain diameter, and a certain strength, but mine wasn’t quite big enough. So they had to use a cadaver’s hamstring instead. I know, it’s weird, but very cool.”

Thanks to his successful “very cool” surgery, Mauk has been able to continue in his position as a point guard for the McCracken County Mustangs. He’s also managed to maintain a perfect grade-point average despite a demanding course load, including classes in biomedical science and sports medicine.

Mauk transferred to McCracken from St. Mary halfway through high school specifically for the new consolidated school’s expanded science curriculum. He loves both schools, he said, but he saw greater opportunities at McCracken. He’s also taking a guitar-playing class at McCracken. Mauk has played guitar for fun for years, but while recovering from his knee injury he started seriously trying to improve his musical skill. It takes patience, he said, but it’s worth it.

He can say the same for golf.

“Nothing gets me mad like golf,” Mauk said with a smile.

Mauk’s favorite things are the ones he has to work at the hardest.

“My whole life, I’ve watched my parents work so hard at everything they do,” Mauk said. “They’ve always set a good example for me, so I’m doing my best to follow it.”

Contact Genevieve Postlethwait, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651



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