Yeti MMA Athlete of the Week: Friedman Wins Essay Contest Scholarship

Jake Friedman won his first varsity start. Credits: John Mooney
Jake Friedman pitched five scoreless innings against New Providence on Thursday. Credits: John Mooney

SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- Jake Friedman won Yeti MMA Athlete of the Week for the week of May 12. Once a Scotch Plains-Fanwood HS athlete won the award, they were invited to write an essay on "What it Means to be a Student Athlete."

While many essays were compelling, Jake’s submission embodied YETI MMA's athlete code, according to the training facility's owner, David Martin. 

“It is said that there are no losses, only lessons learned, and Jake eloquently personified this point,"  Martin said. "As long as there is time on the clock or innings left to pitch there is always the opportunity to achieve. That is exactly what Jake did. He never lost sight of his goal.”

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Friedman was originally selected as Yeti MMA Athlete of the Week for his performance on the baseball mound against New Providence on May 11. In his first career varsity start, the right hander tossed five shutout innings in front of a lively crowd on SPF Baseball Youth Day. 

But it's how the junior pitcher got to that start which made it so special. 

The hurler underwent elbow surgery his sophomore year for an injury that cut his freshman season short. The surgery meant that he could not throw a competitive pitch the entire season, and in baseball, or any sport for that matter, sophomore year is vital to the development of a player. With his future in question, it took strong mental and physical toughness for Friedman to rehab and become what everyone knew he could be. 

After suffering an elbow injury freshman year, two local orthopedists told me that I should stop pitching. However, the injury also caused pain and numbness while doing homework, playing Frisbee, etc. As you can imagine, that was devastating news for me.

Once he was cleared to throw again, Friedman began the season on Scotch Plains' junior varsity team. After a few starts, he passed every "test" and it was clear that he was varsity ready. 

This arm injury has made me a different person, I am much stronger mentally and physically now.  I am proud of what I have conquered so far and will not stop working until I have reached my goal of getting to back to 100%. 

His start on that May afternoon symbolized the end of a very long road of recovery and resilience. 

"Jake came back from arm injury, threw well, and did a great job," said Scotch Plains-Fanwood varsity head coach Joe Higgins. "It's great to have him back."

Friedman will be presented the check with his $1,000 scholarship at Yeti MMA in Scotch Plains later this week.

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