SPORTS HEADLINES

Saturday Sports Buffet: No longer iron man – Givens finds comfort zone after surgery to rebuild chest

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, February 15, 2014

From the left baseline, Austin Givens drains 3-pointer after 3-pointer. That’s his comfort zone.

STICKING HIS CHEST OUT – After having a rod inserted in his chest in middle school, Austin Givens shows no fear driving to the basket for the playoff-bound Eagles. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“The corner. That’s my favorite spot and always will be,” said the Decatur senior.

Givens, who leads the Eagles in 3-pointers and shot 30 percent from the perimeter during 9-3A play, gives little hint to the major surgery he underwent in junior high to rebuild his chest.

Givens was born with a pectus excavatum – a condition in which several ribs and the sternum grow abnornally.

“My chest was dented in,” Givens explains. “You could stick a fist in my chest.”

The condition didn’t limit the three-sport athlete.

“Before the surgery, I was normal. I was just self-conscious about it,” Givens said.

To repair Givens’ chest, doctors put in a metal bar to push out the bones.

“It popped it out,” he said.

For more than two years, he played basketball and other sports with the metal rod in his chest.

“My teammates would ask me to show them because you could see it stick out on the side,” Givens claims.

Neither the added metal in his chest nor the surgery ever limited him.

“The first two or three weeks were really uncomfortable, but after that it loosened up,” he said. “Once I recovered from the surgery, I moved around normally.”

The rod was removed before his junior year.

Those past surgeries have not slowed Givens down. His coach, Drew Coffman, said he still plays with reckless abandon.

“He’s the first on the floor for a loose ball and is not afraid to take the ball at people,” Coffman said. “Given his medical history, it’s amazing to see how physical he plays.”

Entering the playoffs, Givens is averaging 12.8 points per game – third-best on the team. He is also averaging 4.8 rebounds.

Givens and the Eagles, who begin the playoffs next week, hope they can make a playoff run. After a pair of district titles, he and his teammates can already stick their chests out a bit.

SIDEDISHES

  • After an impressive run at Decatur, Kyle Story heads east to take over at the new Frisco Independence High School. It will be quite an upgrade in facilities, especially on Friday nights. Independence will play its games at Toyota Stadium – home of the FC Dallas soccer team – and Frisco Memorial Stadium. In the future, the team will share the Dallas Cowboys’ new practice dome with Frisco’s other six schools.
  • No offense to Kyle, but he was far from the biggest story at Frisco’s school board meeting Monday. FISD trustees called a bond election for $775 million.
  • Seven district titles and 109 wins in 15 seasons is nothing to sneeze at. It’s impressive considering the lack of Division I athletes he had over 15 years, while compiling a .652 winning percentage.
  • Decatur should get a pretty good slate of candidates for its opening, especially now that other high-profile jobs in North Texas like Denton Ryan and Independence are filled.
  • Area football coaches filled their non-district schedules with some interesting matchups. Boyd and Bridgeport are slated to play in week two. Decatur and Bridgeport will play in week five. Three area teams will play neutral-site games. Decatur will play in the Dale Hansen Classic in Waxahachie against Alvarado. Northwest gets to play at AT&T Stadium against Prosper in the second week. Alvord will play Leonard in Denton at C.H. Collins Stadium.
  • A few hoops teams are ending droughts this year. The Paradise Lady Panthers picked up their first postseason win since 2000. The Bridgeport Bulls are returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2004. Slidell should be favored to pick up their first postseason win since 2007 when they play Monday.
  • Haven’t watched much of the winter games. But I have enjoyed the limelight that North Texas-ex Johnny Quinn has received. Regardless of if he earns a medal, his door-busting routine and the subsequent interviews should open some doors for him after the games. He’s already received an offer from the Denton Police Department for a door-busting lesson.
  • It’s time for pitchers and catchers to report as spring training opens for Major League Baseball teams. As most baseball fans have talked about that magical date since October, it delivers the least bang for its buck.
  • One last baseball note. Like many Rangers fans, I’m not on board with the new name of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington – Globe Life Park. But if the money from the 10-year deal helps land free agents that bring a title to Arlington, I’ll quickly jump on the bandwagon.

Richard Greene is the sports editor at the Messenger. Follow him on Twitter @wcm_rgreene.

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