By Brighton senior Aaron Asch
Photos by Kurt Johnson
Drew Jensen has gone through more serious injuries in his four years of high school than some professional athletes will go through in their entire careers.
It started his sophomore year, when the quarterback/defensive back fractured his wrist and was forced to play the rest of the season in a cast. His junior year, he destroyed his knee, tearing all of the major ligaments and many of the minor ones, taking him out for the season. Finally, his senior year, he tore ligaments in his other knee, taking him out for a few games in his last season of high school football.
Rather than being beat down by these injuries, Jensen used them — with the help of family, friends and faith — to grow as a person and help lead his team. The first injury was relatively minor by comparison, but it set the stage for how he would cope with those that followed.
“It happened out of nowhere,” Jensen said. “One day my wrist just started hurting, so we went in, got an x-ray, and it was broken.”
He underwent surgery a few days later, received a cast and got to play again. The cast remained on for a full year, however, which did little to bolster Jensen’s feelings about the injury.
“I was bummed, I didn’t think anything would work out, and I was angry, at everything, at the world,” he said.
This feeling of frustration persisted throughout his next two injuries, which were much worse. His junior year, it was a season-ender. He blew his knee after stepping in a pothole on the grass football field.
That put him on the sidelines to watch his team carry on a spectacular season that ended in the 5A semifinals. This year, it happened again but to his other knee, benching him for a few more games in a season that ended in the first round of playoffs.
As disappointing as it was for Jensen, it was almost as heartbreaking for his father.
“It’s almost more devastating for a parent, Rich Jensen said. “We would give anything to (our kids), our arms, our wrists, our knees, but we can’t help them at all.”
Not a stranger to athletic injuries himself, Rich did all he could to help his son with his physical and mental recovery.
“Every day, even now, he makes sure to ask me how my knee is doing,” the younger Jensen said about his father.
Rich helped his son through physical therapy, making sure he did the exercises every day and even doing them with him sometimes. Beyond that, he strived to make sure his son came out with a new perspective on life, and took something away from his injuries. The motto that he promoted was, “If you stay positive, good things will happen.”
His son took this new perspective to heart. According to Rich, “Each time he became more and more respectful of the game, he appreciated it more.”
This was easily seen in his positivity from the sidelines. Despite not being able to play his junior year, Jensen was there every game, keeping the team’s spirits up.
“I would try to keep them positive, I was doing my best to be a motivator,” Drew said.
Coach Ryan Bullet believes that Jensen’s leadership shone through from his injuries.
“His leadership, even as a freshman, was always there, but I think after the injuries, he seemed to become more driven,” Bullet said. “That new drive made him the leader on the team he is today.”
The team helped support Drew just as much as he helped support them at the games. They downplayed the injury and always acted like he would be back by the next game, helping keep him positive.
Another facet of Drew’s positive attitude came through his faith.
“I know it sounds cliché,” Drew said, “but my religion really helped me through. One scripture, Doctrine and Covenants 58:4 (from a book of scripture of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), helped a lot.”
The scripture talks about how a man must go through adversity before he can ever become a king (“after much tribulation come the blessings”). It struck a chord with Drew, who has taken it to heart, believing that overcoming these obstacles will lead to something great for him one day.
After high school, Drew, who has committed to Brigham Young University to play football, plans on serving an LDS mission.
The combination of family, friends and religion has turned Jensen into a unique high-schooler – humble, yet confident, respectful and driven, and above all, positive and ready to deal with any challenges life throws his way.