Camas High School Senior and University of Nevada football commit Jacques Badolato-Birdsell suffered a season-ending injury nearly three weeks ago while throwing the ball around with his teammates.
He said, “I was throwing with Jake and my boys. Basically I went up to catch the ball and I was fading away. I landed weird on my left leg and my knee just twisted to the left. I heard a pop and I knew something was bad.”
Initially he was still able to run, but it really hurt to make cuts. To play it safe he decided to take it easy for the rest of the day.
“I got up and I could walk and run, but when I tried to make a cut I could not do that. I was like no I’m done for the day. I got home and I couldn’t walk upstairs so I went to the doctor and they told me it was a torn ACL and a little tear in the meniscus,” Badolato-Birdsell said.
CHS Senior and Oregon State football commit Jake Blair added, “We didn’t think much of it because he could still walk and he wasn’t in too much pain. But obviously, it turned out to be pretty bad.”
His coaches and teammates were heartbroken when they heard the news.
CHS Varsity Running Back Coach Allen Jones said, “When he told me I truly felt ill, I felt like I got punched in the gut. On top of it changing us as a football team, my heart just broke for him. I know how hard he had worked to put himself in the position he was in, as the best RB in the PNW and so to see him lose his senior season on a fluke injury was a tough pill to swallow.”
He added, “Selfishly as a coach I was just bummed that I wasn’t going to be able to coach him anymore. It’s not too often that a kid as naturally talented as Jacques is couples that with a maniacal work ethic and a relentless pursuit to get every ounce of talent out of his body. So to lose a season of getting to coach a dude like that stung quite a bit.”
Badolato-Birdsell had surgery two weeks ago and has started the recovery process. For the first two days after surgery he used crutches, but since then he has not needed a brace or anything. He has been doing physical therapy twice a day and exercising his upper body since he is not allowed to do any leg exercises.
“Basically the full recovery is eight months. In three months I can start jogging, but then in five months I can start doing lateral movement. Time will tell,” he said.
Badolato-Birdsell is very encouraged by all the support he has received, not only from his teammates and the CHS coaching staff, but also the coaches at the University of Nevada.
He said, “I talked to them (coaches at the University of Nevada) right when it happened and they were really supportive.”
Despite not being able to play his senior season with his brothers, Badolato-Birdsell is staying optimistic.
“It’s life. Life happens and you just gotta adapt, improvise, and overcome it. It can happen to the best of us. Just keep your head up and just remember who you are and fight it, that’s it,” he said.
Since the CHS football team has been cleared to practice, he has not missed a single one. He continues to be out there supporting his guys, even if it is from the sideline.
Badolato-Birdsell said, “I’ve attended every practice. Just because one person goes down, we always got guys to fill the roles and I’m always gonna help my teammates, and give them the same energy as if I was on the field.”
He added, “Football is a team sport, you gotta be there for your teammates because they’re going to be there for you regardless.”
The CHS football coaching staff really appreciates Badolato-Birdsell’s commitment to the team and the effort to get better.
Jones said, “It’s funny, I had another player text me the other day about 20 minutes before practice was supposed to start to say that he had a minor injury and that he wasn’t going to be able to make it that day. I immediately responded with ‘so Jacques blew his knee out, had reconstructive surgery, does his rehab and he hasn’t missed a practice but you can’t come because of this little ding?'”
Badolato-Birdsell being present at practices despite his injury motivates his teammates to work harder.
“So I think that’s how Jacques helps motivates his buddies, by still showing up every day and finding a way to help the Makers win football games even though he can’t help us on Friday nights,” Jones said.
Badolato-Birdsell has taken on a coaching role and is helping out with the other running backs.
CHS Varsity Head Football Coach Jon Eagle said, “He is coach Jacques now. He is learning how to encourage and coach his teammates.”
He added, “This is new for him. He is accustomed to being out front and vocal with this team. Now, he is learning how to support in different ways.”
Blair said, “Everyone on the team has stepped up to fill in the absence of Jacques. We’re doing this season for him.”
Badolato-Birdsell assists Jones with coaching the other running backs, who will have to step up and fill his role this season.
“He’s helped me out a ton coaching the other RBs, especially the younger guys. Each day before practice we talk about what drills we are going to do, what we need to work on and then we go coach ’em up. He’s still the loud, joking, funny kid at practice but now he just doesn’t have pads on. His teammates have done a good job of just being there for him and helping keep his spirits up,” Jones said.
There is no doubt that Badolato-Birdsell was going to have an outstanding senior season to cap off a historic high school football career at CHS. He is determined to be present for his team no matter what because he knows that they always have his back.
Jones said, “Papermaker fans everywhere are going to miss out on seeing one of the best football players to come through these halls get to play his senior season, he was going to have another special year and cement himself as one of those Camas all-timers.”
Blair added, “I think Jacques will come back even stronger and better than he was before. He’s a hard worker and he’ll work hard throughout his rehab to make himself better.”
Badolato-Birdsell is a fighter and this injury will only be a minor setback to the future he has ahead of him.
He said, “I gotta thank everyone that’s been there for me since day one, I gotta thank all my coaches who have been supporting me, I gotta thank all my teammates, my parents, and all my teachers at CHS.”