It wasn’t too long ago that doctors were telling Terrebonne High School track standout Julian Maze that he may never be able to jump again.
Maze apparently had other plans.
Just more than a year after sustaining a severe left knee injury, Maze signed a college scholarship this week to continue his track career with Southeastern Louisiana University.
The scholarship was earned after Maze returned to the track this past season and overcame the injury in a solid senior year.
Inking with the Lions marks the cherry on top of his comeback story – one he said was filled with many ups and downs along the way.
“It was hard,” Maze said. “I’d be lying if I told you it was easy. There were a lot of difficult days. There were a lot of days where I didn’t think I could do it. But I just stayed positive and worked hard, and I’m glad that I was blessed enough to be able to keep going with my career.
“If someone would have told me the day that I got injured that I’d be signing a college scholarship, I wouldn’t have believed them. I wouldn’t have thought that was possible with the things that I had been told and the pain that I was feeling from the injury. … It’s been a long road, and I’m amazed to be able to have this opportunity.”
Jumping has been a part of Maze’s life since the 8th grade.
He said he picked up track and field while a young teenager and was immediately a hit in the long jump and triple jump events.
The results speak for themselves.
Throughout his career, Maze has won titles at both the prep level and also in AAU competition.
As a high schooler, Maze was a contender at the LHSAA Class 5A State Meet as an underclassman.
On the AAU level, he has competed at the AAU Junior Olympics.
Maze said he entered his junior season as one of the favorites to win the state championship in his two events.
But that changed at a preseason meet on March 15, 2012.
“I was jumping in a meet at the beginning of the season, and I just blew everything out,” Maze said. “Just like that, I was done.”
Maze tore his ACL, lateral meniscus and medial meniscus in the injury. He also fractured a bone and dislocated his kneecap in the injury.
Doctors told him that he would be out for six-to-eight months when the injury occurred.
That obviously meant that the remainder of his junior season was a wash.
But even with another season to compete, Maze said doctors didn’t think he would be able to return to his prior form because of the severity of the injury.
He had to relearn how to walk, run and all of the basic things that he took for granted before the injury.
“The doctors told me straight-up that even if I did come back that I probably wasn’t going to be anywhere near as good as I was,” Maze said. “It was a hard road back, but I just had to treat every day the same and take them all one step at a time. It was a long road and I just kept believing.”
Belief is a word Maze uses often while interviewed – he said he was determined not to give up.
Using what he described as “belief in God and belief in myself,” Maze attacked rehab.
Maze said he approached the whole process with an open mind, even though he sometimes doubted if he’d get back on the track.
“I definitely had those days where I doubted myself,” Maze said. “I didn’t know how this was all going to end up.”
That doubt started to simmer this past winter when Maze progressed enough in his rehab to begin running again.
He said once he was able to overcome that hurdle, he knew that there was light at the end of the tunnel.
“Once I started to run and I saw that I had that little bit of speed left in me, I knew that I could get it done,” Maze said.
But running and jumping are two different things.
Maze’s ascent back to the track still had a few more bumps in the road.
He said once cleared to compete, he wasn’t able to fully exert himself because he didn’t trust that he was healthy.
“I just couldn’t let myself go like I used to,” Maze said. “I was afraid – I thought that if I went 100 percent that I was going to get hurt again. I didn’t believe that I was healthy enough to do this, even though they told me I was. So I talked with my coach one day and he told me that I was never going to know for sure until I gave it a try. So I did.”
Once Maze did, he immediately found success.
He overcame the odds and had a strong senior season – a year capped with a fourth place finish in the triple jump at the state meet.
Maze said he will only get stronger in the future because he battled knee soreness throughout the year.
He said the injury didn’t affect his performance on the day of the meet, but it affected how often he could practice.
“It’s what they told me to expect,” Maze said. “But as the year went on, I got healthier, and I was able jump some better numbers.”
Knowing that he still hasn’t tapped his full potential, Southeastern stepped in and offered Maze a scholarship following the state meet.
Maze said the Lions weren’t on his list of schools before the offer. But after visiting the campus, he said he changed his plans and decided to enroll with the program.
“I really liked it there – thought it was a place that I would really be able to grow,” Maze said. “So I decided to accept their offer.”
Maze said the Southeastern coaches like his technique and believe that once his knee gets more comfortable, he will be a steal.
The Terrebonne standout now will spend his summer working out so that he can be as physically fit as possible when he enrolls.
That sure beats rehab and not knowing if he’ll ever be able to compete again.
“I’m blessed,” Maze said. “I worked hard, but a lot of people work hard and never come back. I’m blessed with an amazing opportunity. I plan to make the most of it.”
Terrebonne High School jumper Julian Maze splashes the sand during a jump this season at Vandebilt’s Terrier Relays. Maze was one of the top finishers in the event. His climb back to the top of the local track scene comes just more than a year after he tore the ACL in his left knee. Maze rehabbed and overcame the injury. He was awarded this week with a scholarship from Southeastern Louisiana.