Injured captain Jake Nardone proves to be true team player

No. 16 senior Jake Nardone was injured in the third game of the season. (credit: Courtesy of Susan Kettering via Facebook) No. 16 senior Jake Nardone was injured in the third game of the season. (credit: Courtesy of Susan Kettering via Facebook)

Senior running back and captain of the Carnegie Mellon football team Jake Nardone injured his right knee earlier this season. He has been contemplating whether to redshirt the rest of the football season and come back next year to play one more season, or to pursue a career. Prior to his injury, Nardone received All-UAA honors twice, achieving First Team All-UAA as a sophomore and Second Team All-UAA as a junior.

Nardone is majoring in business administration, with a track in finance. If he decides to graduate this year, he is interested in pursing a career in sales and trading. “The most rewarding part of being a CMU athlete is that you know you are one of the few people who can succeed both athletically and academically at one of the most challenging private universities in the country,” Nardone said.

Nardone’s injury occurred this season in the game against Catholic University. “I was playing with a sore hamstring. I was playing well, but right before halftime, I made a sharp cut to break away from a safety and I heard a sharp pop in my knee. I think that I was relying too much on my knee because of the hamstring injury,” he said.

The timetable for this type of injury is anywhere from seven to 12 months. “If I choose to play a redshirt senior year, I would be ready to play next season,” Nardone said.

Meanwhile, Nardone has limited mobility and is currently undergoing treatment on campus. “Every day I go to treatment in the athletic training room. Adam Hindes has been a tremendous help working me through the pain to get my knee back into playing condition. Also, two days a week, [physical therapists] from UPMC stop by to check my recovery status. It has been difficult so far, but I know that it is well worth it,” he said.

Nardone doesn’t want to miss out on spending time with the team. “The aspect of football that I love the most is the camaraderie within the locker room. No matter what, I know that being with the guys is going to lift my spirits,” he said.

Despite being injured, Nardone has been remained active on the team. “I just show up with the same positive attitude that I always have,” he said. “The challenges you face in life are never the same, but the mindset you take to conquer them should never falter. That is why I am able to stay positive.”

“When thinking about Jake, not just one aspect stands out from the rest of who he is as a person,” senior outside linebacker Owen Parker said. “It is quite perplexing because as a player, captain, leader, and teammate, he is what I consider to be the cream of the crop. When I look back on my college experience, I without hesitation believe he is the most genuine and caring person I have met both on and off the field.”

One way Nardone stays active within the team is by setting goals for himself and his teammates. “The goal for myself is to continue to be a strong leader through the injury process,” Nardone said. “It is so difficult as a captain to not be out there every day on the field, but I can still show the guys that my heart is still with the team and that we have come this far together, that we have so much more to work for.”

“My goal for the team is for each member to remember that they are a part of something bigger than themselves and to continue to work hard and improve everyday,” he added. “I know that if this team is able to do that the amount of success we will have in wins will speak for itself.”

Whether Nardone decides to redshirt and stay for another year or not, he feels that “football has been a huge part of my experience at CMU. The sport has helped me stay focused through the academic rigors, and it has also led to countless great friendships that I will take with me for the rest of my life.”

“I just want to thank everyone that has reached out to me and encouraged me through the injury and rehab process, because it has made such a difference to see that people care about your well-being,” he said.