A cruel reality in sports is that injuries happen and nobody is safe. Ferris’ men’s basketball team had to face that reality this season when they lost junior wing Jaylin McFadden. McFadden sustained a torn ACL during the team’s trip to California for the D2 Tip-Off Classic.
McFadden has been forced to sit the rest of the season, but men’s head basketball coach Andy Bronkema said he’s an encourager now as he plays a new role as more of a coach. Instead of putting on his players uniform, McFadden now suits up and plays a pivotal coaching role on the sidelines at every game. He is still an important part of this year’s team. Bronkema said the team believes this happened for a reason and it will make Jaylin the most complete player and person that he can be which is a necessary value.
“First it was emotional as I put a lot of work in to start the season and one injury stops you this year and you can’t play until next year so it’s hard,” McFadden said. “But at the same time it’s a blessing because there is a lot of things that I want to apply to my game just by watching other players and watching my team and what they are doing so I can better myself for next year, so it’s like a blessing in disguise.”
McFadden was a part of the 2018 National Championship team and played a pivotal role coming off the bench during the title run. He was a part of the starting rotation last season and the games he played this season, averaging 18.6 points per game.
“A lot of people go through ACL injuries and then give up on basketball, or don’t think they will come back the same and a lot of people around them like family give up on them, but here at Ferris State, the coaching staff, the players are all encouraging me to get stronger and telling me I’m going to come back better than I was and its very encouraging and means a lot,” McFadden said. “They see what I can be and my potential so they push me to be that and to know they have that confidence in me helps me see that I can see that type of player is just a blessing to me.”
Not having McFadden out on the court since the trip to California hasn’t stopped the team or Jaylin himself from getting better and improving every week. With the team having three senior leaders in Greg Williams, Cole Walker, and D’angelo Hughes who take charge as vocal and example leaders.
Assistant coach Raymoan McAfee believes Jaylin must now, as a necessity, be a more vocal leader and put his actions into words.
“You feel for Jaylin first of all, especially losing a player of his caliber. It will hurt any team and any moral of any team, but the guys have uplifted him, and they continue to play and — taking that situation on — it could’ve been anyone of us,” McAfee said. “We feel for Jaylin but we have a next man up system. We have to wait for him to come back and hope he becomes a better player when he comes back.”
“If he can continue to lead vocally as well as by example that will be something, we won’t be able to replace for a very long time especially at the level Jaylin can do it at,” McAfee said.
Bronkema said Jaylin’s development has been amazing on and off the court with the many things a college basketball player juggles in life. McFadden just wants to add to the leadership ladder and heal to get back on the court for his senior year next season. The coaches have said that Jaylin has a way of seeing the game as it plays out from a coach’s standpoint with ease and that he is a very smart player but having that chance to view the game from the sideline with only help him grow even more.
“You can learn something from everybody down from the freshmen to the redshirts. You’ve just got to take the time to listen to them that’s the biggest thing I have learned from off the court leadership,” McFadden said.
As the year winds down into the playoffs with only nine more regular season games left for the bulldogs, the team is looking forward to having their brother back on the court. Jaylin will come back next season for his senior year, with perhaps more knowledge and a different experience to compete for the university, coaches, fans and his team-.