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Johnson senior pushes himself on football field, in class

Not even a fractured vertebra in Johnson High senior Cameron McCarthy’s neck could keep him from reaching his goals.

During a football game in his sophomore year, 18-year-old Cameron went in to block someone.

“My neck jolted back and turned to the side,” the Gainesville teen said. “I knew something was wrong because I felt a burning and stinging sensation run down my neck and into my arms.”

Cameron didn’t return for the rest of the game.

His X-rays showed a hairline fracture in his neck. Needless to say, Cameron was out for a few games.

During that time he was working with a team doctor for three or four weeks on physical therapy.

“The major thing it taught me was that I am never one to quit,” Cameron said. “Being injured and not being able to do much really brought me down, and it would’ve been real easy just to walk away from football completely, but by continuing to work hard to get better and not giving up, I was able to keep playing the sport I love.”

On top of football, though, he’s also worked hard at his academics. He has more than a 4.2 grade-point average while taking International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement classes.

“I just always stayed focused,” Cameron said. “I knew what I wanted to accomplish during school and didn’t pay attention to distractions or anything that might prevent me from doing good.”

Cameron has served on the school’s Leadership Council and participated in the Honors Mentorship Program, working with Back in the Game Physical Therapy.

His finest moment came when he was accepted to the University of Georgia.

“UGA has always been my dream school,” he said. “With it being a fairly difficult school to get into, I just feel that it is a true testament to all the hard work and dedication I’ve put into school these past four years.”

He’s hoping to focus on exercise and sports science and then move on to graduate school to become a physical therapist and help athletes who get hurt like he did.

“The injury is actually what motivated me to go into the physical therapy field,” Cameron said.

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