Bobby Miketinas didn’t score a point in Catholic High’s 40-37 win over South Lafourche High on Friday night.
But the senior co-captain has no complaints. The chance to play varsity basketball is a dream come true for Miketinas, who was told he’d never play basketball again nearly four years ago.
“I want to continue to try and be a leader and try to get back to the full strength I used to be,” Miketinas said. “My hope is that we can get back to the playoffs, which we missed last year. And I hope our senior class can leave a positive mark on the program.”
Things have changed drastically for Miketinas, who nearly lost his left leg in an accident when he attended St. George as an eighth-grader. A truck hit the four-wheel vehicle he was on; he was thrown 30 feet.
Miketinas was knocked unconscious. Doctors were forced to remove portions of bone and tissue from his lower leg in order to avoid amputation. A metal plate was inserted in its place.
At that time, Miketinas was told playing football and basketball would be out of the question. Months of painful rehabilitation followed; he wears a brace on the leg.
By the end of his freshman year at Catholic, Miketinas decided the swimming he was doing as therapy could lead to a new sport. So he joined the Catholic swim team and competed in the 500-yard freestyle for two seasons. All the while, the dream of playing basketball stayed in the back of his mind.
“I’m going to swim after basketball is over,” Miketinas said. “It’s a part of my life now, and it made this possible. If I hadn’t been able to swim to get my leg stronger, I wouldn’t be playing basketball now.”
Until midway through his sophomore year, returning to basketball remained a dream. Enter Catholic coach Mike Toups, who watched Miketinas in physical education classes and who had heard about him from his players.
“I wasn’t here as the coach when that terrible accident happened,” Toups said. “But I’d heard about it. I knew in junior high that (Miketinas) was a very good player, and I knew I wanted to get him involved. There hasn’t been a second when I didn’t feel good about having Bobby in our program.
“He really is an inspiration, and he’s worked so hard. You have to think about what he’s missed. First, the accident was terrible and then he missed a whole year and half or two years when he could have been working on his dribbling or his shooting. It’s been a process, and he’s bought into it.”
Senior teammate Evan Wampold agrees.
“When you watch us play, Bobby is the guy who is diving on the floor for loose balls,” Wampold said. “His main role is defense. A lot of times, he’ll guard the best guard for the other team when he gets in the game.”
Wampold played against the 5-foot-10 Miketinas in middle school and recalls, “He was one of the best players in the city. He could take just about anybody off the dribble and get to the basket.”
The process back to basketball has been challenging. Miketinas joined the Bears after the season began as a sophomore and saw limited duty on the junior varsity team. Because Catholic has a rule that prevents juniors from playing on the JV, Miketinas’ chances to play last year also were limited. But he continued to work and played AAU basketball last summer, which offered more experience. This season, Miketinas comes off the bench for the Bears.
“You can see the improvements he’s made,” Toups said. “He has more lift and arch when he shoots the ball. What he gives us is defense. There are times when we need somebody to come in and guard a good perimeter player for the other team.
“Just last week in our St. Thomas More game, he had to guard Trey Touchet, who is an outstanding perimeter player, and we were able to limit Touchet’s chances to score.”
An honor student, Miketinas carries a cumulative 3.8 grade-point average, plans to attend LSU and wants to major in a medical-related field like physical therapy. His advice to those battling injury and adversity is not to give up.
“Never give up,” he said. “I proved to the doctors I could (play basketball). You never know what can happen when you put your mind to something.”