Missouri Baseball Commit Navigates Recovering From Season-Ending Injury


Media by Lisa Holubowski

Jack Holubowski, junior, performs light isometric exercises with the help of his physical therapist Dr. Nolan Rappe. These exercises help re-introduce motion to his left shoulder. Holubowski, a Missouri Baseball Commit, tore his labrum off the bone of his left shoulder during his first baseball game of the season on March 18.

Jack Holubowski, junior, stepped into the batter’s box on Friday, March 18, for his first at-bat of the season. Holubowski, a Missouri Baseball Commit, bats third in the lineup, giving him the opportunity to bat in the first inning of play.

With sophomore Dominic Anselmo scoring on a passed ball, Holubowski had a chance to add to MHS’ early lead against St. Charles North from St. Charles, Illinois.

Holubowski did exactly that. 

He made contact on a low pitch on the right side of the plate which resulted in a solo home run, giving MHS a 2-0 lead over St. Charles North after the first inning.

That would be Holubowski’s last hit for the entire 2022 season. 

On the very next appearance at-bat, his shoulder subluxed and his labrum tore off his bone. 

“I was mainly in shock,” Holubowski said. “It felt like someone was pulling on your arm with extreme force and as your arm had come off.”

I plan to use this experience to strengthen my mental and emotional part of the game. ”

— Jack Holubowski

Only after his MRI did Holubowski find out his season was over as the injury was too severe to return to action in the season’s timespan. After two plate appearances, Holubowski had lost yet another season of his high school career, his freshman season already having been canceled due to COVID-19.

“I was looking forward to playing my junior season. Not being able to be out there with the team really hurts,” Holubowski said. “I know the impact that I could have on our team and our season and it’s just really unfortunate that I can’t go out there and make that happen.”

The impact of Holubowski’s injury has not only affected him, but has affected the entire team as well. Head varsity baseball coach John Meyer said Holubowski is irreplaceable on the field and his absence has led to the development of other players on the roster to be much faster.

“We are moving players higher in the batting order and trying some different combinations of line ups to see how players handle the situation,” Meyer said. “We are fortunate Jack’s injury occurred very early in the season which gives everyone enough time to adjust as we get closer to the postseason.”

Elite-level athletes are always present and focused on the task at hand, and Jack shares that mindset.”

— Dr. Nolan Rappe

Meyer also added that Holubowski’s leadership and mindset after his injury has helped him and others a great deal.

“Jack has done a great job of helping other players with game situations and hitting approach. If he can have a good mental attitude right now, other players can follow his lead,” Meyer said. “He has a great work ethic, so that will help him recover and be back not only on time or early but also be a better version of himself moving forward.”

In terms of the recovery process, Holubowski said it will take him somewhere north of 6 months to return to action. He is taking everything slow, including not playing baseball at all this summer, in order to not cause any more harm to his shoulder. 

He said that this process has been more emotionally draining than physically draining.

“Honestly, recovery has sucked,” Holubowski said. “I can’t do everyday activities, and I’m not allowed to move my arm other than assisted movement at physical therapy. I mainly just miss having and living a normal life and doing the things I love most.”

Dr. Nolan Rappe, Holubowski’s physical therapist, said that the primary objective in the early stages of Holubowski’s recovery is to protect the integrity of his repair as they re-introduce motion and light isometric muscle activation.

“Specifically, [Jack] utilizes a device like a golf club or cane to help take his arm overhead and out to the side,” Dr. Rappe said. “We manually resist shoulder blade motion to help target activation of his scapular stabilizers until he is cleared to begin that work on his own.”

Dr. Rappe said labrum tears on a hitter’s lead shoulder isn’t uncommon, but that it’s very important to follow every stage of recovery and to protect the structure of the shoulder afterwards.

“The easiest way to think about the shoulder is that the relationship of the shoulder to the shoulder socket is like a golf ball sitting on a tee,” Dr. Rappe said. “The labrum covers the surface of that socket or ‘tee’ and helps to provide more stability to the shoulder joint – acting almost like a suction cup. It is very small, but nonetheless is a very important structure for shoulder stability.”

Dr. Rappe said that Holubowski is one of the most focused athletes he’s ever worked with.

“Elite-level athletes are always present and focused on the task at hand, and Jack shares that mindset,” Dr. Rappe said. “He takes preparing his body to play very seriously, and this will only serve him well at the next level of play as he transitions to college baseball here over the next 18 months.”

Holubowski said that his mindset is to come back better than he was before and that he will make sure of it.

“I plan to use this experience to strengthen my mental and emotional part of the game,” Holubowski said. “I gotta embrace the grind and love the grind, and I know it’ll be tough, but I will get there and I’m looking forward to every second of it.”