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Meet Dr. John Awowale, orthopedic surgeon

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Dr. John Awowale photographed in Venice with his fiancee

While growing up, John Awowale, an orthopedic surgeon with Orthopedics & Sports Medicine BayCare Clinic, was a three-sport athlete and enjoyed helping those in need. However, he didn’t expect to make a career of it.

But when Awowale’s uncle was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, he decided to go into medicine.

Awowale obtained his degree in pre-med biology from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse and then attended medical school at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

“When I got there, I realized I enjoyed family medicine and primary care,” Awowale says. “But at the same time, I had done my surgical rotation in surgical oncology.”

While doing surgical rotations in oncology and orthopedics, Awowale discovered he liked to work with his hands and use surgical tools. He fell in love with orthopedics and sports medicine, leading to his specialization and the life experiences for which he will always be thankful.

“As a medical student I kind of knew the team doctor for the Badgers, so he got me into a couple of practices … So, I got to meet Russell Wilson (then UW’s quarterback, now an NFL quarterback) as a med student, which was pretty cool.”

Eventually, Awowale worked one-on-one with Badgers football players while completing his orthopedic surgery residency at the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics. He completed his internship there as well.

Camp Randall Stadium, where the Badgers play, will forever hold a special place in Awowale’s heart. His love of sports and medicine allowed him to secure another love.

“The football coach was able to get my girlfriend a pre-game pass to go down onto the field,” he says. “We walked around. I surprised her by proposing. It was super cool. She was super surprised. That was a cool thing that Dr. Baer, the team doc, kind of set up.”

Working with Wisconsin athletes was just a preview of Awowale’s future.

While obtaining his fellowship in sports medicine at the University of Virginia, he managed care for the Cavaliers’ men’s basketball and lacrosse teams and the James Madison University football team during his surgical rotations.

“I was in surgery on football players, basketball players and lacrosse players,” Awowale says. “We had our athletic trainers, we would interact with them and interact with players. We would eventually see them in clinic and if they had an operative injury, then we would operate on them.”

During his time at Virginia, Awowale witnessed both the lacrosse and basketball teams become NCAA champions.

“Last year, I attended the (basketball) Final Four in Minnesota and that was awesome,” he says.

But Awowale’s time at Virginia wasn’t all fun and games. He put in many long hours of studying and training. Today, he specializes in shoulder replacements, rotator cuff repairs, hip labral repairs, knee meniscus treatment, ACL reconstruction and shoulder, hip and knee arthroscopies.

In addition to treating patients at Aurora BayCare Medical Center and other BayCare Clinic locations, Awowale will assist local high school teams with sports-related injuries.

In his free time, Awowale enjoys playing football, basketball, snowboarding and skiing with friends.

He and his fiancée are excited to start this new chapter of their lives and have celebrated by traveling to Greece, Italy and France.

Published: Monday, November 11, 2019