EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)-- A former Barron High School three-sport athlete and Wisconsin Badgers football player is back in northwest Wisconsin giving back to the community he grew up in. And it's safe to say, the folks throughout Barron County are thrilled to have Josh Balts, M.D. back in town.
Dr. Josh Balts says, "Great opportunity to come back to the area that you grew up, help to take care of people that helped you when I was growing up, taught you, coached you."
Josh Balts stood out athletically at Barron High and then found success on the gridiron at Wisconsin. His senior season, his Badgers team going 12-1 and beating Arkansas in the 2007 Capital One bowl game.
However, his eventual career wasn't playing sports, but healing those who did. He enrolled in medical school at UW to become an orthopedic surgeon.
Josh Balts, M.D., Mayo ClinIc Health System- Northland says, "Being in football and being a student-athlete in college really prepared me for the medical field. Residency is demanding, 80 hours a week, and I was kind of used to that with football."
Balts dealt with several injuries during his Badgers career, from torn ACL's to shoulder surgery. Those experiences helped shape his future and after five years of training in Madison, he returned home to become the first full-time orthopedic surgeon at Mayo Clinic Health System- Northland in Barron.
Balts adds, "It's helped immensely, being in those shoes, the devastation of a season-ending or career-threatening injury, all the way to asking what's it like to have surgery, I've never had this before. Having those experiences, being able to share that with my patients."
Balts says the decision was a no brainer for his family to return home- especially in the wake of the tragedies in Barron County this year. This included the devastation left behind by a powerful tornado, one which has only strengthened the community.
Balts says, "That's what you get with a small town, that's why I love it, it's why we came back. There's nothing like the people of Barron County, Rice Lake, Chetek, Cameron, Barron, they all kind of band together when you have something happen. You can't replace that."