Story by Christian Banks
For all too many young athletes, an ACL injury can completely derail their career, but for senior Justen Chatman this is not the case. He takes his injury as a way to be a good role model for his team and to set a good example of not letting your spirits dampen after an inconvenience.
“I told them to stay positive and my story is kinda like an inspiration to them because of how strong I stayed and how positive they are. Most people that have ACL injuries are crying and devastated. I stay positive and that ignites them to play hard,” Justen said.
Justen’s role shifted when he got injured, as he adjusted from starting point guard to more of a mentor and coach. Head coach Bret Jones has noticed the initiative he’s had since his injury.
“Well he’s been a senior leader and kind of a player coach. So yes, he’s helping the younger guys out. He knows he’s got what it takes to help other people out and they respect it,” Coach Jones said.
Justen was expected to help guide the team to another playoff berth, but an injury in practice derailed those expectations. Despite having to miss the season with his injury, Justen has made it a priority to stay positive and remain a leader for his teammates.
“The hardest thing is staying positive. If you think negatively you aren’t going to get better, you aren’t going anywhere,” Justen said, “I have to stay supportive of my teammate because at the end of the day, I have to be there for them. I wanted to stay strong for my team and be a good role model.”
Justen’s teammates have noticed and appreciated the work that he has done while a member of the Dutch Fork basketball team, saying that they will certainly miss not having him on the court.
“It’s definitely a big loss to the team and personally I feel bad for him because it’s his senior year and he doesn’t really get to play his final season in high school,” said senior Jaedon Williams, “I know that hurts him a lot, and it hurts the team as well and everybody is sad for him.”
The team embraces the “next man up” attitude when it comes to filling his role in the starting lineup, and are looking towards some of the younger players to step up.
“Next man up, gotta move on. We are going to miss Justen, going to miss his playing time but he is going to help coach and help mentor and still be a leader, but it’s the next man up mentality,” said Coach Jones, “We have a tough spot to fill. We are gonna do it by the whole team, whoever steps up. We’ll see.”
Some of the younger members on the team have looked up to Justen even more since he’s been hurt, saying that he has become a mentor to them, to ensure they know what they are doing.
“Justen I mean this is the senior year he’s been playing great and everything, but he’s been at every practice he’s been like a coach to us so he’s handling it well,” said sophomore Jaylen Leonard.
Justen has looked to find the silver linings in, what is traditionally, a very tough injury for athletes. Staying positive is the key he says.
“It give me new perspective on the game, as a player you see things a certain way. I am more appreciative of the game and I see things a player wouldn’t,” Justen said. “I tell my teammates to stay positive and use my story as an inspiration because of how strong I stayed. That ignites them to play hard.”