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Former Air Force basketball player Nick Jorgensen happy on active duty after a career cut short by injury

February 17, 2018 Updated: February 17, 2018 at 4:48 pm
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Former Air Force basketball player Nick Jorgensen (center) talks with current Falcons Ryan Manning (right) and C.J. Ciples (front left) after Air Force's 76-52 loss at Boise State on Saturday. (BRENT BRIGGEMAN, THE GAZETTE)

BOISE, Idaho – Nick Jorgensen considers his to be a success story.

The former Air Force basketball player drove 40 miles from Mountain Home Air Force Base to watch his old teammates play at Boise State on Saturday. He sat a few rows behind the Falcons’ bench, had the opportunity to catch up with friends like Ryan Manning, Dane Norman, C.J. Siples and Frank Toohey and spent time reflecting on a brief career cut short by a knee injury.

Jorgensen averaged 13.5 minutes over his first eight games as a freshman, reaching high marks with six points and four rebounds in a 94-86 victory over South Dakota on Dec. 5, 2013.

Air Force forward Nick Jorgensen reaches toward the ceiling as he walks onto the court before the Falcons' game against Jackson State Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, at Clune Arena on the Air Force Academy. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
Air Force forward Nick Jorgensen reaches toward the ceiling as he walks onto the court before the Falcons' game against Jackson State Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, at Clune Arena on the Air Force Academy. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock) 

But then came a knee injury. The cartilage tore off the back of his left knee cap, and it wasn’t until a second surgery during his sophomore year that the problem was fully identified. By that point the pain had grown great and he and the team made the mutual decision for him to walk away from the game.

“Tough, tough kid,” coach Dave Pilipovich said. “He set the record for most minutes in our training room, I think.”

Basketball was a driving force in bringing Jorgensen to the academy, but it wasn’t the only factor.

“It just fit for me with everything that the academy stood for, being in the academy and protecting others. So it all ended up working out just perfect,” Jorgensen said.

After basketball was removed from the equation, Jorgensen remained and graduated. He’s now serving as a maintenance officer, working with about 50 people in a shop at the secluded Idaho base charged with repairing aircraft. He spends much of his time in meetings, ordering parts and dealing with a hodgepodge of situations.

It’s not what he envisioned, particularly when at 6-foot-6 he stepped into a regular role at forward with the Falcons, but he’s content with how it played out.

“I’m doing what I love to do,” Jorgensen said. “Basketball gave me the opportunity to do that and I enjoyed all the time I got to spend with the team and play my first year. But being in the Air Force is a really great thing and I enjoy what I’m doing. I do view it as a success story."

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