Ohio State coach Thad Matta played college hoops, has run marathons and competed in triathlons. Until a few years ago, he used to the guy who dusted assistant coaches during exercise runs.
Then everything changed.
This great read from CBSSports.com’s Jeff Goodman details how chronic back pain placed Matta in a position that surgery was needed to ease the pain cause by a bum disc. It’d take about four hours. That was June 16, 2007.
Matta and his wife were informed the odds were about 200,000-to-1 that something could go wrong. He was the one.
Matta woke up and couldn’t move his right foot. He had “foot drop,” which meant his foot literally flopped over and had no support or stability.
“They told me it should come back in a couple days,” Matta said. “Then it was a couple weeks, then months and then years. They knew it wasn’t coming back.”
He couldn’t use his foot and needed surgery six weeks later simply to save the nerves and see if it would improve. Didn’t happen. Matta spent the next few years trying to adjust – he still hits the elliptical machine and lifts weights – but hasn’t complained. His players are amazed by his resiliency.
Matta’s 44. He’s energetic on the sideline and an active recruiter, but is unsure how long he’ll stay as the coach.
“The biggest fear you have is being debilitated,” Matta told Goodman. “I’d like to see 50 or 55. Quite honestly, when you’ve got a staff like I do, it makes things easier. This is a tough job, but I enjoy what I do.”
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