Promising baseball future jeopardized by fluke football knee injury
Emmanuel Morris was anxious for his sophomore year at Hinsdale South High School to begin. After all, he earned Most Valuable Player and All-Conference baseball honors his freshman year so his future appeared to be on track to achieve his dream of playing Division I college ball and maybe even in the pros. He also earned starting roles offensively and defensively on his varsity football team. All significant accomplishments and testaments to his determination considering Emmanuel had been sidelined with a left knee injury he sustained during a football game his freshman year. But his varsity playing days were numbered. In the final quarter of the Hornet’s third game, a teammate was tackled into Emmanuel’s right knee felling him immediately.
After X-rays and an MRI, Emmanuel was referred to Dr. Steven Chudik because the diagnostics revealed torn anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments and medial collateral ligament (ACL, PCL and MCL). “My family and I were very upset about the news and worried it might keep me from returning to baseball in the spring and ultimately fall off the radar of college scouts,” Morris explained. “For as long as I could remember, I had high aspirations of playing baseball in college.”
Just three weeks shy of Morris’ 16th birthday, Dr. Chudik performed arthroscopic surgery on Morris’ knee to reconstruct his three damaged ligaments. “These multiple ligament knee injuries are very serious and can be career ending. Only with anatomic reconstruction and a long arduous rehabilitation can a dedicated athlete return to the field,” Dr. Chudik explained.
For the next eight months, two of which overlapped with the start of his sophomore baseball season, Morris worked diligently in physical therapy to get his knee into playing shape. His hard work allowed him to rejoin the team mid-way through the season. “It wasn’t exactly my best year as I didn’t quite feel like my old self,” Morris said. “It took me about a full year from when I had the surgery until I was fully confident in my knee and back to feeling that I could play at the level I wanted,” he added.
And play he did. Morris put together strong junior and senior year campaigns, earning All-Conference and All-Area both years, and All-State honors as a senior capping it off with a scholarship offer to play baseball for Villanova University. Morris graduated from Villanova and played four years as a starting catcher and outfielder but not with aspirations for the pros, rather a career in the medical field. “Thanks to Dr. Chudik, I achieved my dreams of playing Division I baseball at an outstanding academic institution. Seeing firsthand what Dr. Chudik was able to do for injured athletes, he became my inspiration to pursue a career in the medical field,” Morris grinned thinking about his promising future.