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Rivalry Thursday

Jordan Ritchie

Jordan Ritchie

It was the middle of Jordan Ritchie’s sophomore year of high school when the CAK athlete realized something was wrong. “I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma early in the spring of 2010,” Ritchie said. “The doctors at Children’s Hospital told me that the chemotherapy wouldn’t be a big deal. Unfortunately, a mistake was made and they put the chemo into an artery rather than a vein. Because this happened, the chemo was sent to my arm causing severe neuropathy in my left arm.”

Because of the neuropathy, Ritchie suffered a stroke and saw not his athletic career, but his life, flash before his eyes. “Going into the chemo the doctors told me that I would be back for spring football. But, after everything happened to me I lost about 30 pounds and was bed-ridden in the hospital. At some point in the process I realized that there was a lot more to life than football. We essentially moved to New York for about six weeks so that I could receive treatment at Sloan-Kettering Hospital. My mom has a book, Jesus Calling, that she would read to me every day. She found some very encouraging verses and she analyzed the word for me. It changed my perspective of life from “why is this happening to me?” to “why not me?”

Jordan moved back to Knoxville right before the 2010 football season began. Although he wasn’t able to be a part of the team on the field during his junior year, he was a major part of it off the field. CAK Head Football Coach, Rusty Bradley, remembers well the day Jordan hit the field for the first time. “He wasn’t able to practice in full pads, but he put on the shorts and ran routes during our off week,” Bradley said. “It was one of the most memorable days of the season for me. I’ll never forget when Jordan ran a route and caught his first pass. He came over to me and we broke down because of the emotion of just him being on the field for the first time since everything had happened to him. He is probably the strongest kid spiritually at CAK that has come through our program. There’s no question that he will be the leader of our team next year.”

Jordan is now a part of the basketball team for the Warriors, and even though he’s not 100%, he is contributing. “I have started a few games and am in the seven man rotation, but I’m not completely back,” Ritchie said. “I would say I’m about 85%. I lost a lot of coordination thanks to the chemo and the stroke. I had to re-teach myself how to dribble a basketball. Considering that I was a point guard as a sophomore, that’s kind of tough to go through.”

Jordan is enjoying basketball, but football is what he can’t wait to start again. “You have no idea how ready I am to put on the pads again,” Ritchie said. “There’s no question in my mind that God has blessed me with a second chance. I’m not 100% now, but come the fall I expect to be back to the old me.”

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