‘Mind over matter’: Trinity senior Parker Pavlicek hasn’t let complications from Crohn’s disease keep him from playing his final football seasonParker Pavlicek knows there are plenty of reasons for him not to be playing football.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
Parker Pavlicek knows there are plenty of reasons for him not to be playing football.
He just can’t stand the thought of them.
“It’s mind over matter,” said Pavlicek, a 17-year-old senior right guard for Dickinson Trinity.
When Pavlicek was 14 years old, he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory disease that affects the intestines. For much of the past three years, he kept the disease under control through medication.
Then, shortly before football season began in August, Pavlicek began suffering what he described as a ‘severe flair up.’ Despite constant severe abdominal pain, Pavlicek has done whatever he can to keep playing football.
“Sometimes it gets so intense that I have to sit out for a while,” Pavlicek said. “I’ve had a lot of people come up to me and say, ‘Why are you still going? Why are you still doing this?’ It’s my senior year of football, I don’t want to let my friends down. I want to give it my all.”
That willpower, let alone Pavlicek’s diminutive stature for an offensive lineman — he stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 160 pounds, down about 20 from this summer — is enough to inspire.
“I don’t think anybody would want to have that kind of a hindrance all the time,” Trinity head coach Randy Gordon said. “But, his work ethic is excellent. You would never know it. He realizes life is special and he wants to live it every day.”
However, Pavlicek’s health reached a point this season where he had to take a step back.
He missed a full week of school while at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. That caused him to miss two football games, the Titans’ win at Rugby and loss at home to Bismarck St. Mary’s. Pavlicek returned to practice last week and started last Friday’s game against Belcourt. He intends to play Trinity’s final two games of a season that will end without a postseason appearance.
“I just want to keep my head up, make the most of it and do it for pride,” Pavlicek said, “End the season on a high note.”
That attitude comes from the amount of work he put in to prepare for his final season.
Trinity senior tight end and captain Dylan Fridrich said he and Pavlicek spent a lot of time together in the weight room in the summer.
“He got a lot stronger, he put in the work,” Fridrich said. “He was, he was up there in weight, strength. It was out of his control, what all happened.”
When the flair ups began, Pavlicek had to begin intensely watching what foods he put into his body. The week before he went to the Mayo Clinic, he was on a fluid-only diet.
Pavlicek said energy loss has coincided with his weight loss. That is due to a side effect of Crohn’s disease that prevents Pavlicek from absorbing nutrients as well as he would if were he healthy.
“It got to the point where he was so sick, us as captains were getting pretty close to telling him it’s time. Life’s more important,” Fridrich said. “But you see a kid like that, who wants nothing more than to help everyone else out, do everything for the team. He loves the game. That’s the only reason he plays.”
As an already-undersized offensive lineman, Pavlicek knows there’s a big difference between a strong 180 pounds and an energy-depleted 160. He said even practices can be immensely draining for him, he said.
“You’ve got to think, ‘In two hours I’ll be done with it,’” Pavlicek said. “I just give it my all through that. It’s tough on the line when I’m weighing 160 and there’s a guy across from me weighing 220 and I have to go up against him. It does make it tough. I’ve got to give it my all in attitude.”
The Titans visit Bottineau on Friday and end their season at Beulah on Tuesday.
Gordon said that in a season beset by tough losses and injuries to some of its top players, Pavlicek’s determination is inspiring.
“He’s fired up to get on the bus to Bottineau and play,” Gordon said. “That’s the way Parker is. If you could put him in somebody else’s body — a big guy — you’d have a heck of a player. But that’s usually the way life works.”