ELKHART — Elkhart Christian senior boys basketball Seth Jachimiak doesn't know if he's been an inspiration to his teammates.
He should be.
Since eighth grade, Jachimiak has been a frequent visitor to the doctor's office.
Discouraged, for sure, beaten, never.
In eighth grade he was diagnosed having type 1 diabetes. What followed that year was a case of mononucleosis. Last year as a junior at Elkhart Christian, Jachimiak saw his basketball season cut short because of patella tendinitis. This year, he has been trying to fight through a degenerative disc in his back.
"He's been a trooper," said Eagles boys basketball coach Chad Hibbard. "He's endured so much and worked so hard to play basketball."
The patella tendinitis forced Jachimiak to have a procedure done on both knees and miss most of last basketball season.
"My doctor said it was the worst case he's seen and he's an Olympic doctor and a doctor at Notre Dame," said Jachimiak. "He said that I could get the procedures done immediately or try to fight through the pain. I couldn't do that, so I decided to do the procedures at the beginning of the year."
Physical therapy for eight months followed for Jachimiak.
"After that he busted his butt in rehab to get to feeling better," Hibbard said.
Coping with diabetes has been even harder for Jachimiak.
"Diabetes has definitely been a struggle to deal with on a daily basis," Jachimiak said. "Adrenaline is different when you're playing basketball. When you get into a game your blood sugar spikes really high. There's nothing you can do about it, but roll with the punches. I have a strict diet. I just eat chicken and rice or beef and rice. I'm continuously on a glucose monitor that identifies trends in your blood sugar. I've had a bunch of stomach issues. It has been pretty debilitating."
But giving up basketball wasn't an option for Jachimiak.
Since he was in elementary school Jachimiak has found joy playing the sport. When there was doubt for Jachimiak to keep playing, a strong faith, family and friends provided inspiration.
"I wanted to keep playing for my team at Elkhart Christian," Jachimiak said. "They've been very supportive of me and understanding. Putting God first is my No. 1 priority. God gives me strength to handle everything I go through."
His mother Brenda and grandmother Pat come to all the basketball games and their cheers and words of encouragement are appreciated by Jachimiak.
"My mom definitely pushes me and my grandma wants to come to all my games," Jachimiak said. "They always tell me after games that I've played well."
Because of height, Jachimiak stands out on the basketball court.
"He's 6-foot-9 with his sneakers on," Hibbard said.
Coming off the bench to start the year, Jachimiak has gradually gotten more comfortable on the court. His best game so far this year has been a seven point, six assist performance on Dec. 6 in a 96-31 win over Hamilton.
"I think I've been performing pretty well," Jachimiak said. "Not being able to play for awhile, I'm just getting into the swing of things."
Hibbard still feels Jachimiak can be a hard matchup for opponents even with the health issues.
"I would love for him to get starter minutes," Hibbard said. "I really hope he can become a strong force down low that teams struggle to stop. Since I've known him, I've tried to get him to be aggressive down low. At times, he shows that ability. I know he has that in him. It comes down to have an aggressive mindset and having him feel like he should go at an opponent until they stop him. I feel like he can take attention away from (leading scorer) Luke Burns with his presence. I like the potential of those two when they're both out there. We also need Seth to be a big-time rebounder for us. We're not a great rebounding team yet. Seth has the height and length to be a good rebounder."
Jachimiak isn't sure about playing basketball beyond this year. Owning a 3.84 grade-point average, he will be attractive to colleges academically. Jachimiak plans on majoring in exercise science and be a physician assistant for his career.
He has short-term goals for the basketball team and for himself.
"I want us to get past sectionals and have a winning record," Jachimiak said. "Personal goals are to improve my basketball skills and get to feeling better. Some days I feel really good and some days I feel really crappy."
He's certainly inspired his coach.
"I'm super proud of him," Hibbard said. "I'd like for him to have a pain-free senior year."
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