Because he knows the helpless feeling that comes with standing on the sideline, Baylor senior Ian Jump makes sure he spends as little time there as possible now.
Born with a congenital heart defect known as transposition of the great vessels, a condition that affects just five in every 10,000 babies, Jump underwent emergency surgery when he was one day old.
The condition occurs when the two major vessels that carry blood away from the heart - the aorta and the pulmonary artery - are transposed. Following corrective surgery, Jump was able to live a normal childhood without restriction, aside from annual trips to Vanderbilt Medical Center for checkups with his cardiologist.
But during his sophomore year his doctors discovered an enlarged aorta and informed Jump and his family that the strain of athletics and the risk of being hit in the chest could have fatal consequences. As an active 15-year old, on the brink of earning playing time with the Red Raiders' varsity football team, the news that his athletic career was possibly over was devastating.
"That was really tough," Jump said. "I had played sports my whole life, and having to tell people that I couldn't play anymore, and then having to watch all my friends get to play and not being a part of it was the worst."
His father, Dr. Jeff Jump, is a local primary care physician and was able to explain away some of the fear of the unknown for Ian. However, Dr. Jump could do nothing to console the disappointment his son felt after having sports taken away.
"As a parent that was difficult to know your teenager was having to deal with a life-and-death issue for himself," Dr. Jump said. "Any time your child hurts, it's worse than hurting yourself. We were all coming to grips with the reality that athletics isn't worth jeopardizing your life, but you also realize that sports was a big part of who Ian is and wanted to do with his life.
"We had never been overly cautious, because we didn't want Ian to feel limited. I tried not to let my doctor side influence any decisions much because I had confidence in his cardiologist, so I just wanted to be more of a parent and help him understand as best I could. From a medical standpoint, I was comfortable with whatever his doctors decided."
After further tests, and his doctor conferring with other heart specialists, Jump was allowed to return to the playing field.
Since being cleared to return by his cardiologist, after a year spent being relegated to only punting, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound senior has become one of Baylor's most versatile contributors, playing wide receiver, cornerback and punt returner, as well punting and holding on extra points and field goals, and is the backup quarterback.
"Because of what he's been through, he just gets it," Baylor coach Phil Massey said. "Every time he steps on the field he gives us everything he has, because he knows he doesn't have a lot of playing time left. He won't play football again after high school because of his medical limitations, but he never complains and is always ready to do whatever he can to help the team.
"He's been given this window, and he's making the most of it."
Jump had six catches for 105 yards against second-ranked Montgomery Bell Academy and has completed all three pass attempts for 50 yards and a touchdown. Jump will be counted on as much as any player if Baylor is to extend its five-game win streak over rival McCallie in tonight's battle of state-ranked foes (Baylor is No. 3, McCallie No. 7 in Division II).
"I've been nervous for this game since preseason camp," Jump said. "It's my last year and our seniors have never lost to them, so I get chills just thinking about it.
"Just getting to go back on the field with my friends and teammates was an awesome feeling. Going from not being allowed on the field to hardly coming off the field now, I know what I had lost for a while and how important it is to me just to be out there."
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com or 423-757-6293.