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Senior Jakob Medina makes most of season-ending injury

Jakob Medina ‘19 suffered a season-ending injury in just the 7th game of the season. It’s hard to imagine how most seniors, especially those who had their sights set on playing in college, would handle such a blow but anyone around Saint Patrick basketball this season couldn’t help but notice how impressively Jakob handled the situation and the impact it had on his team.

On a fast break in the 3rd play of the game against conference rival Benet Academy, Jakob landed on his left foot and felt something shift. Although he said it felt weird, he stayed on the floor, tied his shoe tight assuming he had just twisted his ankle, and played the rest of the game. After the game, when he took off his shoe, his foot was huge and there was a bone sticking out the side of it. The next morning, an x-ray revealed he had an extra bone in his foot (a condition called accessory navicular).

The doctors told Jakob to wait three weeks and see if it would heal on its own but unfortunately, there was no progress. Even more unfortunate was that it was during the holidays so he had to wait to have surgery. The holidays pushed everything back or Jakob says he would’ve been able to play in the state tournament. As it turned out, he had to wait until January 9th to have the bone removed and was out for the season.

When Jakob first found out he wouldn’t play again his senior year, he said the first thing he wanted to do was talk to Head Coach Mike Bailey. “He told me it’s going to be tough and things are going to be hard but the team needed me regardless because of the leadership role I played,” Jakob said. “He wanted me to know how much it would mean to him and my teammates to have me around at practice and during games.”

At first Jakob says he figured since he was done for the season he would just focus on his physical therapy but he talked to his uncle who told him he can’t be selfish. “It could be a blessing in disguise,” his uncle said. “It really was,” according to Jakob. “Not just for me but for other people.” People like teammate and friend Austin Freeman ‘19. “He got to play an even bigger role this year when I got hurt,” Jakob said. “And I was really happy for him.”

With one gesture, Jakob, who has played with Austin since 8th grade when they were teammates on the St. Pat’s feeder team, threw his support behind his fellow Shamrock. Every year Jakob saves coins in a jar and at the end of the year would buy himself a new pair of shoes to wear in the Christmas Tournament. “Because I couldn’t play this year and Austin’s shoes were always coming untied, I ordered him a new pair and gave them to him as a Christmas present,” he shared.

Freeman ended up averaging 26 points and 5 rebounds per game and set a tournament free throw percentage record (.969) going 31-32 earning him a spot on the Jack Tosh All-Tournament Team. He went on to have a stellar second half of the season leading the Shamrocks to a Regional Championship and earning selections to the Chicago Sun-Times All-City and Illinois Basketball Coaches Association (IBCA) All-State Teams.

Jakob told Austin, “You need to score 60 points on Senior Night – 30 for you and 30 for me” and every day he tried to figure out what he could do for the team attending every practice until he started physical therapy and whenever he could after. “I wanted to be there for my teammates,” Jakob said. “When you don’t play, you see things you don’t see when you do. During games, I was even more helpful.”

Jakob says he would yell at his teammates from across the court and talk to them in the huddle. “Every huddle I would try to say something to everyone I saw.” He would especially watch Austin and Dominic Galati ’20 and critique them before, during and after the game. “They would do the stuff I would tell them to do and continue doing it throughout the season. That’s how I really helped,” he said. Jakob is proud of the team finishing the season with a 20-11 record and a Regional Championship. “It’s a huge accomplishment that hasn’t happened since my freshman year.”

Just as Jakob tried to be there for his teammates, he says they were there for him too. “They made it seem like nothing was wrong and everything was the same.” Especially Galati who always asked how he was doing. “I owe it to him,” Galati said. “I wanted to make it as comfortable for him as possible just like he would’ve done for me. When I first came to St. Pat’s and played up on the sophomore team as a freshman, he took me under his wing, gave me confidence and told me what to do.”

Another person who was there for Jakob during his injury and rehabilitation was his mom. “She was there for me this whole time,” he said. “She came to every game. It meant so much. She cheered like I was playing.” And when asked what he learned sitting next to Coach Bailey on the bench every game, Jakob says he learned that coaching is very stressful. “It’s something you’ve got to love to do. You’ve really got to love the players,” he said. “These coaches love us. They love to coach. They love to coach here [at Saint Patrick High School] especially.”

“I can’t think of a kid that has handled that type of situation better than Jakob did,” Coach Bailey said. “He’s always been one of the best leaders in the basketball program – and he continued to do that through his injury. He’s left a major imprint on the program, both as a player and a leader, and I believe he has his best basketball in front of him.”

As for Jakob’s future, he says the school’s that stuck with him keep talking to him. After the season he even got a call from one coach who told him, “I’ve never seen you play a game but I would love to have your type of leadership on my team.”

Jakob has been invited to Evan Turner’s Prospect Showcase in April, an event for players looking for junior college, DII/DIII and NAIA opportunities, and was selected to play alongside Austin in the East Suburban Catholic Conference (ESCC) All-Star Game giving him plenty of opportunities to prove his worth on, as well as he has done off, the court.

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