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Madani gets a break toward surgical career

Leave it to a future orthopedic surgeon to find the benefits of a broken leg, especially when it's his own.

It was Oct. 4 when one of Kaivon Madani's teammates on The Citadel football team and a player from the Air Force Academy got tangled up and fell on Madani's right leg. The result was a broken fibula and the end of Madani's season. Since he was a senior, it was the end of his football career as well.

But after a brief period of disappointment during which Madani bemoaned the cruel twist of fate, the former Pasco High School star realized the injury was just as much an opportunity.

"The timing was perfect because my career goals were starting to take a higher precedence," said Madani, who started at guard for The Citadel. "I was really ready to move on."

The move Madani is preparing will take him to medical school, where he will study to be an orthopedic surgeon. He said his ultimate goal is to be a doctor for a college or pro football team.

Madani's career choice is no surprise. His father, Behrouz, is a Dade City obstetrician. His sister, Shireen, is at the University of Florida medical school.

What might surprise is that Madani, who lives in Tampa, never dreamed of playing in the NFL, as did many of his peers.

A member of Pasco's 1992 Class 3A state championship team, Madani was a two-time, first-team Times all-Suncoast selection and a second-team all-state choice as a senior. He was a four-year starter, playing at center as a freshman, and then tackle.

At Division I-AA The Citadel, his finest game came against the University of Miami, grading out at 87 with four pancake blocks. His most memorable game was a 10-7 victory over South Florida in Charleston.

"I looked forward to that all year," Madani said. "It's interesting when you play against guys you know."

But Madani said he knew that at 5 feet 11, 277 pounds, he didn't have the size needed to take it to the next level. In fact, he said he knew what his career path would be as early as the 10th grade.

"When I made a decision to go to college it was to go to a place to provide me with an education, knowing football would come to an end," said Madani, who graduated magna cum laude with a biology major and a minor in Spanish. "I don't think I gave a thought to playing in the NFL past the ninth or 10th grade."

It was enough for him to just play. Perry Brown, who coached Pasco's '92 team and is now at Dunnellon, remembers Madani and two friends, Aaron Krig and Chuck Langlinais, walking in on a Pirate practice and asking to play _ on the varsity.

Brown said he wanted to put the three freshmen on the junior varsity, but they were so determined, he relented. They became starters.

"Kaivon probably had the best work ethic of any kid I ever coached," Brown said. "A very hard worker and a dedicated young man."

"I think about how close everybody was on that team," Madani said. "Everybody was committed to winning."

Personal commitment helped Madani became one of The Citadel's finest linemen, leading on the field by fearless example.

"He's a man's man," said Citadel coach Don Powers. "He had such fine technique. He was having a whale of a season."

Then came the injury. Madani stayed on the sidelines, however, attending The Citadel's final six games while intensifying his preparations for medical school.

He also decided to drop some of the weight he was carrying specifically for football. He got off the training table and got down to 235 pounds. He has a 36-inch waist, down from 42.

"He looks tiny," Powers said.

But only around the mid-section. In fact, Powers thinks Madani stands so tall, he paid him what for a future doctor must be the ultimate compliment.

"If I ever had to have orthopedic surgery," the coach said, "I hope I open my eyes and see him standing over the table."

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