Willpower, determination go a long way for Jesus Clemente


by Andri Papanicolas, Staff Reporter

In February 2015, Jesus Clemente, a graduate student from Spain, was playing American football. Little did he know that this would change his future.

Clemente always loved playing American football, which is why he chose to study at Simpson College.

It was a February day. Jesus was playing for Murcia against Catalonia.

Right before halftime, Clemente was catching the ball without seeing the linebacker. Suddenly, he was tackled and fell straight to the ground. He immediately felt that something was terribly wrong.

“When I got up, I could not move my arm,” he said.

He explains that the hit was not even hard, but it caused a lot of damage. First he thought he broke his collarbone, but it turns out it was all the ligaments in his shoulder.

“I kept on playing for one more play, but I couldn’t even move and I was thinking, ‘What am I doing?’” he said.

Clemente left the field and got help from the paramedics on duty. “I took off my shoulder pad and my shoulder was huge,” he said.

Clemente describes the pain as a burning pain that paralyzes you, which explains why he could not move his arm. His shoulder was severely inflamed.

He was more devastated when he got to the hospital and the doctors confirmed that the ligaments were torn off. He was hoping it was the collarbone because that would be an easier recovery process.

It was only the third game of the season and Clemente had been playing well. He was upset that he could not play football anymore.

Clemente took matters to his own hands when he needed surgery. The doctor in Murcia wanted to do a surgery on him, using an old technique. He was told that he would never be able to restore full motion. He told the doctor no.

He did research about the same type of injury and found a newer surgery technique that had a better chance of full recovery.

He wanted to be able to play and lift weights again.

He called around and after calling the sixth doctor, he finally found the one who wanted to operate on him. Clemente was very scared, he admits. He doesn’t like hospitals.

He was awake during the surgery, and he describes it as sitting in a chair with blood running down his chest. “There was so much noise, I could hear the drill,” he said.

Clemente was mentally prepared for the recovery phase. He was not going to let the injury stop him from playing football. Five days later, he was back at the gym. On pain medication, he worked out every day.

Clemente spent many days planning a new training program. “It was hard to do everyday things,” he said. He could not drive, and showering was a challenge.

It took three weeks before he could move his arm again. During this period he was working out his lower body.

Clemente thought he could never be as good as he was. He thought every day would be painful and the dream of playing American football was gone forever. Because of his willpower to continue, he got the best surgery and the best recovery.

“The goal was to come back the same season and play the playoff, and I did it,” he said.

Three months after, Clemente recovered, all thanks to his hard work and dedication.