Julian Jerome Brown is a tough kid.
That is not an opinion - it’s a statement of fact.
To the casual observer, Julian (or J.J. as he is know by just about everyone) looks like every other shaggy, blonde freshman playing JV soccer. He plays a little guitar, spends too much time on his phone and is always up for a little Xbox.
He has yet to score a goal or pick up an assist this season, and right now those are the only numbers he is concerned with. However, at the end of his seventh grade year, about 15 months ago, the most important number was 10, as in he had about a 10-minute window to have surgery on a skull fracture, brain injury and several other injuries sustained in a golf cart accident at West Boggs Campground - or the consequences would have been dire.
J.J. and several friends were on a street legal-style golf cart, when they lost control coming down a hill, causing the cart flip on its side and J.J to hit his head on the road.
Although he did not appear to in serious trouble at first, his mother Andrea Brown, an emergency room nurse at Daviess County Hospital, who was camping nearby, knew things were not right.
“When I arrived I saw he had bleeding out of his left ear and the left side of his face wasn’t moving so I thought there might be some nerve damage — and it might be worse than just a skull fracture,” she said.
”There was some debate on whether the helicopter should land at Boggs right then or take him to the hospital first. Actually, he never got into the hospital, as it (the helicopter) was waiting for him at the DCH landing pad and he was lifelined to Evansville.”
J.J. had an epidermal hematoma, so they had to perform a craniotomy, which means surgeons had to cut away about a third of his skull. along with that, J.J. and family would still have to deal with paralysis in his face, hearing loss and having casts set on his arms.
“Every time they looked at an X-ray they found something else,” said Allen Brown, J.J.’s father.
However, even facing the long road to recovery and an uncertain future, J.J. wanted to get back on the soccer field.
“I didn’t think he would every play any sports. In fact, he still had both arms in casts when he asked the his doctor, ‘When can I play again?’” said his mother.
That number was six months, and although he admitted that he would try to sneak out and play before he was fully cleared, no one was sure if he would be able to play again.
During that winter he played on an indoor team, before returning to travel soccer in the spring and high school this fall, where he joins his older brother Brooks, a senior, on the Hatchet team.
Brown said he is not nervous on the field about heading the ball or any other part of the game. He also said that his coaches and teammates don’t treat him any differently. And he doesn’t expect him too.
“I just do the same things I’ve always done,” said Brown.
Hatchet coach Quintin Myers is quick to say how proud he is of J.J. and the tremendous strides he has made.
“You can’t tell the difference between J.J. and anyone else out there,” said Myers. “He goes just as hard, and has never asked for anything special.”
“This is the most serious injury we have every had a player go through, and to come back the way he has is just amazing. No one would have blamed him, if he would have chosen to take the easy way out.”
Myers said that when J.J. scores his first goal, it will probably be a special moment.
“It will probably be a little bit of an emotional moment for those on the inside - J.J., his family and friends, the coaches and teammates.
“We are blessed to have J.J. back, especially when you realize how close we were to losing him,” added Myers.
And it is doubtful anyone will ever question his toughness on or off the field.