EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State’s Jack Winkler is an ace on the tennis court, but a recent illness almost side-lined him for good.
But now he’s back on the court.
“When I was In that, you know, last three, four days before my surgery, I kind of remember taking a turn for the worse, and I knew that was the time where, you know, I just, you know, just needed to keep going,” said Winkler.
It was not an easy battle for the senior student-athlete who eventually had a perforated colon.
He spent a combined total of about six days in the hospital over a few months. A battle with Ulcerative Colitis led him to lose 60 pounds of muscle.
“That was a big battle,” Winkler said. “But like I said, it kind of helped that I was an athlete and been competitive my whole life.”
Winkler even had to use a temporary Ostomy bag. He also had to learn how to sit up and walk again. But while he was out, he was able to support his teammates as an assistant coach.
“That was fun,” Winkler said. “I gained a different perspective of tennis and honestly, it probably helped me come back this year.”
Now, Winkler’s back out on the court, giving his all again. He’s gained all his weight back and is a force that’s stronger than ever.
“Little by little, I was able to step on the tennis court,” Winkler said. “It started out with like, five minutes, you know. I was barely hitting the ball, but you know, even being out there just put a huge smile on my face.”
Dr. Claire Peeples of Beaumont Royal Oak was Winkler’s surgeon. He spoke about how resilient Winkler was by being able to make a comeback to the court.
“I haven’t seen that motivated of a patient to get back on the court,” said Dr. Peeples. " Now seeing him seeing him play, it’s just kind of amazing.”
“I believe that no matter what, you know, no matter how long it takes, you’re gonna get better,” Winkler said.