Positively the Heartland: Concordia High School basketball player beats the odds

Posted at 8:27 AM, Mar 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-04 11:36:30-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Concordia's Matthew Jipp loves to play basketball and he's overcome a lot to have that chance.

After a convincing district win, Matthew is first to the net.

Loud cheers give it away—there's more to this moment.

Early on, doctors prepared Andy and Kim Jipp: their son may never walk.

"We actually didn't know he had spina bifida until he was born, and then they saw an opening on his back, so they took him away. He actually had trouble breathing, as well," said Kim.

Intubated immediately, Matthew had surgery that day, essentially to untangle nerves from his spinal cord.

"The prognosis was, 'hey, he's probably not going to walk.' It was a little touch and go those first couple of days. A lot of information you're trying to process," said Andy.

By his fourth birthday, he'd need several surgeries.

Matthew's parents took note of his resilience even back then.

"He's been a fighter and a go-getter ever since he was little," said Kim.

Concordia Boys head varsity coach Ken Kulus modifies workouts to protect the 18-year-old's health.

Nearly everything else is routine.

"It's never been a 'gift' position for him. It's always been something he's worked at and strived for. For him to be on the team. For us is just part of our culture and part of who we are," said Kulus.

Fellow senior Ace Eckman talked about Matthew's qualities.

"He brings a lot of positivity and energy to the team we love having him. In practice, he works his tail off and he's just selfless and a great guy," said Eckman.

A unanimous sentiment.

In addition to this honor, the team also asked Matthew to accept their championship plaque.

And in-game, they're his most vocal supporters.

"It's just amazing the support that I have from everybody. And, jokingly, I've told some of them, 'try not to be so loud when I go in'," said Matthew.

Beyond basketball, Matthew's example is universal.

"There's always a way that you can deal with things. And there's always ways to get around the hard things and to do what you want to do in life. If you want to do it, you might have to do it differently than everybody else, and that's okay," said Matthew.

Concordia faces Auburn in the state tournament Tuesday.

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