Varsity - The Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics

Varsity - March 14, 2013

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LUCAS AT LARGE M I K E LUCA S • UWB A DGERS.C OM Budmayr gives up football, not dreams F irst of all, if you think it was easy for Jon Budmayr to walk away from football, think again, because you don't know Budmayr's passion for the sport or how much he has invested. "It was one of the toughest decisions that I ever had to make in my life,'' said Budmayr, a Wisconsin quarterback who has dealt with a string of injuries since fall 2011. "I love the game so much ― I put so much into it ― and for it to be over, it's not just going to happen overnight where you're just going to move on. It's a process and I respect that fact.'' He also has the utmost respect for his family in Woodstock, Ill. So after another setback this winter, he made a tough call ― to move on his with his life ― and an even tougher phone call home. "I called my parents,'' Budmayr related, "and I just said, "It's over, I can't do this to my body anymore.' It was very emotional. But it was the right decision.'' He got no argument. "Jon, I'm proud of you,'' Rick Budmayr said. "Jon, our love is unconditional,'' Jackie Budmayr told her son. "It's just a game." So, Budmayr approached firstyear head coach Gary Andersen about the possibility of joining his Badgers staff as a student assistant. Done deal. "Coach Andersen is so positive and I can't thank him enough,'' said Budmayr, who's helping with special teams and the tight ends. "He is an unbelievable guy, he really is.'' 16 » VARSITY MAR CH 14, 2013 Budmayr has been on the field for each of the first two spring practices. Two months ago, believe it or not, he still harbored the hope of being there in a uniform. He was feeling good and throwing the ball around without discomfort in December. Through the first week of winter conditioning, he was OK. But, then, he got some warning signs the second week. "I wasn't feeling great,'' Budmayr said. "And, then, the third week, a couple of things went wrong with my body. There was a reoccurrence of some nerve issues.'' Budmayr was experiencing numbness in his throwing elbow, which he had encountered previously. Then, it spread to his knee. "That was brand new,'' he said. That was the beginning of the end of his football career. There is a medical diagnosis for Budmayr's condition. It has a name, too, but he'll leave that to the doctors at the Mayo Clinic, where he became a case study last spring. "It's an inflammation disease of the nerves that was kind of working its way through my body,'' he said. "It doesn't allow the muscles to function the way they're supposed to, which then leads to some disability.'' The nerves have eventually regenerated in his shoulder. "Right now,'' said Budmayr, who has had two elbow surgeries, "we're giving the nerve in my leg some time. We're hoping for the best and praying that it works itself out.'' The instability of his knee has caused problems doing some normal things. "My walking is not terrible,'' he said, "but any sort of running or planting … it sort of gives way.'' When was the last time Budmayr felt even close to being 100 percent physically? "I was healthy for about a year in 2010 when I was backing up Scotty (Tolzien),'' he said. "It has been an uphill battle since. You get one thing kind of calmed down then something else pops up.'' Few would have fought this long. What kept Budmayr going? "God and my faith,'' he said. Once again, he also singled out his family bond and the one that he shared with his teammates. "You form a brotherhood with these guys,'' he said, "and it's times like these when you lean on them. "Every guy I talked to,'' he recounted, "said the same things, 'Keep your head up. Stay positive. We're here for you.''' As a youngster, Budmayr dreamed of playing college football and in the NFL. Now he's planning on a chasing his dream in coaching "to give back in a way for everything I've learned'' from others. "In a way, this is God's blessing for me," said Budmayr, who will leave school with a degree in sociology and perseverance. "You go through all of this and you learn the true value of relationships and everything that is important in life. Do I miss the game? Yeah, I do. "But there are so many great things ahead of me that I'm excited.''

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