Monterey senior demonstrates strength after conquering scoliosis

Published 12:06 am Tuesday, March 21, 2017

David and Sharon Womack look just like any other parents of Monterey High School’s baseball team, sporting their Wolves gear for all to see. And to the naked eye, their son, Matthew, looks just like any other player.

The Womacks have never missed one of Matthew’s games since he was little, especially since he had a six-hour surgery to correct his double curve scoliosis when he was 15 years old.

Matthew now pitches and plays first base as one of four seniors on the Monterey roster, defying what some might say is a task too difficult to overcome.

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“He could have easily quit,” David said. “There was a point when we thought baseball would be over.”

Matthew’s diagnosis came at a regular doctor visit when he was 9. The nurse told Sharon she might want to check out his uneven shoulders.

“I thought he was just slouchy,” Sharon said. “Eventually the curve got too aggressive, and a brace wasn’t holding in anymore.”

The surgery was then scheduled for June 2, 2014, the summer after Matthew’s freshman year. Monterey had made a strong effort for a state championship that season, falling by just one run in the title game a few weeks prior.

During the surgery, Matthew had two titanium rods placed on each side of his spine. The permanent metal is held together with 28 screws.

Matthew spent a week in the hospital and took the whole summer to recover, slowly but surely building up his strength.

“It was pretty hard,” Matthew said. “I couldn’t move or bend. I couldn’t get up on my own. I just wanted to get back to the way I was before surgery.”

While Matthew returned to playing basketball that following November, he resumed baseball at the start of the new year.

He took his first try in the batting cage that February.

“He was standing there holding his bat and would not swing,” David said. “He was afraid it might break his back, not knowing what to expect. After a few swings, he overcame that fear and hasn’t ever looked back.”

“He has overcome a lot,” MHS coach Eric Richard added about the senior. “All 20 of them are great kids, and he’s just a part of that group.”

After four years with the Wolves, Matthew said he couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.

“Everybody here is family,” he said. “We play for each other, and I’m going to miss all my friends.”