As Columbus East graduate Ben Wilson begins his five-year orthopedic surgery residency program at the University of Kentucky this fall, he will think about the break he got in college.
The broken bone variety break.
Wilson, an ex-Kentucky Wesleyan linebacker and a first-team All-Great Lakes Conference selection his senior season of 2009, suffered an injury that influenced his career choice.
“I had some minor injuries in high school, but when I broke a bone in my wrist playing football in college and saw the way my doctors worked with me to get back on the field, it opened my eyes to what this profession does,” Wilson said about orthopedics. “It was always on my mind to be involved.
“I always liked to keep an open mind on what I wanted to do, but I always wanted to stay close to sports to some degree.”
A 2006 Columbus East graduate, Wilson was the Olympians’ MVP his senior season as a two-way star for coach Bob Gaddis.
Ben’s father, Doug Wilson, a Columbus ophthalmologist, said his son learned some important life lessons, such as determination, while playing for the Olympians.
“Both fields are similar if you think about it,” Doug Wilson said. “When you are tired and feel like you can’t go anymore, you still have to fight it out and get the job done.
“Ben was always a hard worker. He was up to the challenge early on, taking tough classes and excelling in them. When he went to college, he kept the consistency going academically and athletically.”
Ben Wilson said his father was an inspiration to him.
“My father’s medical background pushed me to be just as successful,” Ben Wilson said. “He always taught me to strive to be great no matter what I did, whether it be in school or out on the field on Friday nights. I noticed how hard he worked when I was younger, balancing life and his practice. It drove me to do the same.”
When it came to choosing a field of study, Ben Wilson wanted to keep an open mind.
“I was always told to weigh my options in the medical field,” Ben Wilson said. “Sports medicine just has a feel to it that I connected with and keeps me close to the sports that I loved when I was in school.”
After graduating from Kentucky Wesleyan, where he was the Talmadge Hocker Defensive Player of the Year his senior season, Ben Wilson attended Indiana University School of Medicine.
He now will need to establish trust with his patients, a trust he didn’t necessarily have with doctors when he was in high school.
After suffering a shoulder injury against New Albany his senior season with the Olympians, Ben Wilson shied away from doctors and specialists and finished the final seven games. Eventually, it was discovered that he had a torn labrum.
“It showed just how important it is to go and get any injury looked at, no matter how small you think it may be,” his father said. “He was a tough guy and didn’t want to get off the field, but if you get hurt, you want the best treatment as soon as you can get it.”
Gaddis isn’t surprised to see his former star beginning a career in orthopedics.
“He was one of our few that played on both sides of the ball,” Gaddis said. “He characterized what a leader should be. Academically, he was just as good, excelling in most of the classes he took.
“He comes from a very respected family,” Gaddis said. “No one really pushed him but himself, and he knew what it took to be successful.”
He continues to push himself.
“Coach (Gaddis) told me once that character is defined when no one is watching,” Wilson said. “I really took that to heart, and when you think about it, it applies to surgeons.”