After having shoulder surgery in May to repair an injured bicep tendon, McHenry City Administrator Derik Morefield was initially told he wouldn’t be able to resume training the Brazilian marital art jiu-jitsu until December at the earliest.
He was in a sling for six weeks.
“It was pretty devastating. I’m 52 years old. You never know where it’s going to go when you have major surgery like this,” Morefield said.
But he didn’t want to give up jiu-jitsu after taking up the sport about five years ago as a way to stay in shape and compete. He came to came to enjoy the sport immensely and has worked to continue his athletic pursuits, which date back to when he was a wrestler at Woodstock High School in the 1980s.
He worked as hard as possible during his physical therapy to regain his strength and range of motion, but questioned whether he would be able to enter the World Master IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu, which took place in Las Vegas this past weekend.
Not only did Morefield enter the contest, which draws 8,000 competitors, but Morefield walked away Saturday the winner of his division, known as the Master 5 for middleweight males with purple belts, said Morefield’s coach, Dan Hart, who runs the Alpha BJJ jiu-jitsu studio in downtown Woodstock.
There were 14 others in that class of entrants, Morefield said.
“I had zero mobility in my shoulder. I tried to keep a positive attitude. I could have been a victim and said, ‘Hey I’m hurt and I’m never going to do jiu-jitsu again and I need to go find a new hobby.’ I think there’s a saying that the comeback is always greater than the setback. I used that mantra for myself,” Morefield said.
Hart, who also owns the D.C. Cobbs restaurant in McHenry and the brand behind the other restaurants of the same name, was impressed by Morefield’s dedication to the martial art through the injury.
“Derik has done very well in these competitions in the past. We weren’t clear how his shoulder was going to be. He had been training the last couple weeks, but not the same as he had been able to prior,” Hart said. “There were questions going into his first match. Training and competing are very different.”
Hart said Morefield won all three of his matches to the take the gold, his first at a World Master event after taking silver in the past.
Morefield also remained committed to helping teach classes at the Alpha studio in Woodstock, even without being able to fully participate, because he said he feels strongly that the martial art can have a positive influence on young people.
“I still went in three days a week and coached a kids class we had with a sling on my arm. I never stopped going to jiu-jitsu. I was afraid if I stopped I would break the habit,” he said. “Just seeing kids that are from all walks of life come in, I encourage parents whose kids may be interested to hit us up for it. People may be a little intimidated because of the physicality of it. Give it a try.”