Heart Over Hype: Mountain View HS bonds beyond basketball - KPTV - FOX 12

Heart Over Hype: Mountain View HS bonds beyond basketball

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Jake Ryan and teammates (Photo: KPTV) Jake Ryan and teammates (Photo: KPTV)
Jake Ryan (Photo: KPTV) Jake Ryan (Photo: KPTV)

Getting a routine physical is not high on the agenda for most people, but they are a necessary evil for high school athletes. 

In the case of Vancouver's Jake Ryan, the Mountain View High senior has been at the heart of The Herd. 

"Heart over hype" has been the rally cry for the boys’ basketball team at Mountain View High School.

"It's coincidental that this was our slogan but it shows our heart and especially Jake's," said senior Tyler Vu. "It means a lot more than just a team." 

"They said it was a heart murmur and I knew that a lot of people have them,” said Jake. “It's pretty common, just not as serious as I had." 

One week before tryouts, an annual sports physical for Jake revealed that he had been living with a leaky heart valve. 

"I could have had a heart attack, a pretty enlarged heart," he said. 

Head coach Aaron Shepherd said, "It was brutal… Jake and I are pretty close. I thought he was joking at first. Then he had tears in his eyes, I knew he was serious. He said, 'I'm not going to be able to play, coach. I am going to have heart surgery.'"

Just like that, Jake's senior season was ripped away before it ever tipped off. 

Senior Colin Biggs said, "I was heartbroken. He was probably the reason I came back to play basketball."

Soon, Jake laid on an operating table for valve replacement surgery, just nine days before Christmas. 

"The night before his surgery, we played our league opener game, a big game," said Shepherd. "I am sitting back going, 'God, this kid is going to have open heart surgery tomorrow... and he's calm as a cucumber, man.'"

"He said it was mostly for old people, so I was like, 'OK, you will be fine though it,'" Colin said. "He is a strong dude."

After four nights in the hospital, Jake was back home and aching to return to his Thunder buddies, cheering on his teammates from the bench on game nights. 

"It just shows what kind of person he is to stick with the team and his commitment to the team," said Tyler. "It shows he cares more about us then himself."

Six weeks removed from open heart surgery, Jake was in the layup line on senior night, the final home game of his high school career. 

"It's huge just to be able to be out there with my team," he said. 

Coach Shepherd said, "We've kind of been in rebuilding mode. This was the season we were building for and Jake was poised to have a breakout year and he was going to be our captain ... he was going to be our best returning guy for sure."

As Jake's chest is held together by wires, "heart over hype" has assumed a whole new meaning.

"Just to be thankful for everything you are given in life," said Tyler. "To enjoy every moment of it."

Jake said, "Don't take anything in sports, in life, for granted. Just be thankful for what you have."

Jake's doctors told him he will need another valve replacement surgery in 12 to 15 years. As for the here and now, he – like the rest of us – is gearing up for spring to begin his senior year as shortstop on the Mountain View baseball team. 

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