Jason Chappell has been a jock all his life – played four sports in high school and three in college, then went into coaching and eventually became Athletic Director at Liberty Christian High School in Anderson, Ind., 11 years ago. Through it all, from the takedowns in soccer to the pounding of basketball and tennis, he’s been remarkably injury-free. No broken bones, no tears, nothing worse than a few bruises and rolled ankles.
Then, when the boys’ basketball team won their regional championship in March 2016 on a last-second shot by one of his players, Coach Chappell leaped into the air to celebrate – and blew out his Achilles tendon.
“It felt like I’d been kicked in the back of the leg really hard,” he said. “I kept celebrating, sort of wobbling around.”
Luckily, the team’s athletic trainer was Rob Craig, Director of Outreach Services for Methodist Sports Medicine. He immediately noticed something was wrong with the coach. “I think your Achilles is gone,” Craig said.
Beyond the pain and frustration of the injury, Jason’s mind was already on something else: coaching his team through the rest of the state tournament. He was determined to be there for his athletes, no matter what.
After being examined by Dr. David Porter at Methodist Sports Medicine and discussing his options, Jason was fitted with a protective boot so he could continue to guide his team – which he did, all the way to the state championship.
Jason was even able to enjoy a long-planned family vacation afterward, savoring the basketball team’s triumph. Then his Achilles surgery took place after he returned. He appreciated the way Dr. Porter and the rest of his team talked him through every step of the process, allaying any concerns. At age 43, it was the first surgery of his life.
The procedure came off without a hitch, and there was no question who he would turn to for his rehabilitation: Rob Craig. Jason made a remarkable recovery under his care, and was soon walking and then running. He was even scrimmaging with his son’s basketball team by November.
Based on his own experience, Jason has referred a number of students with injuries to Methodist Sports Medicine for treatment, with similarly outstanding results. One female athlete tore her ACL in July, but was still able to make it back by the end of volleyball season, and is currently playing basketball.
Jason’s right leg isn’t quite as strong as the left, but he continues to make progress and believes that with exercise and therapy he’ll be as good as new. And he has his athletic trainer close at hand to monitor his progress.
“Rob is awesome,” Jason said. “He really takes care of us. He watches over us. If anything happens, he’s always there to pitch in. He’s the best athletic trainer in the area.”