April 12, 2021
Romanian gymnast and gold medalist Natalie Commaneci said, “I don’t run away from a challenge because I am afraid. Instead, I run towards it because the only way to escape fear is to trample it beneath your foot.” Season by season, athletes are faced with challenges that can make or break them. Most athletes seem to face a common obstacle: coping with an injury.
Season after season, injury after injury, multi-sport athletes come face to face with an aggravating issue. Many multi-sport athletes have issues regarding different parts of their bodies, some ending their seasons way too early. “My first injury was right before basketball season and I tore three tendons in my ankle. My second injury was in the beginning of football season [and the] end of indoor track season and it was a sprained MCL and partially torn meniscus,” said sophomore and multi-sport athlete Jaden Ferguson. Despite this, he is continuing playing through his sophomore season.
Injuries do not follow a time clock. They can happen anytime, anywhere, and to anybody. “I hyperextended my knee during my senior year of high school and was put in an entire leg brace,” said Statistics teacher and varsity soccer coach Jason Davis.
After the injury comes the painful waiting period. This year, with compressed schedules due to Covid restrictions, the sports seasons are passing at a rapid speed. As a result, some athletes remain worried that doing physical therapy for one injury may hinder them from playing another sport. “I did physical therapy for three months, then got surgery and did it for another five months,” said senior Caylor Manning. She has since fully recovered from her injury.
Some of the exercises for physical therapy contain hard physical work and pain, but persistence for healing is key. Ferguson says, “I had to do physical therapy for my ankle and did exercises that consisted of a lot of ankle mobility.” Ferguson fights through the pain, day in and day out, marking the persistency of a true athlete. “No pain, no gain. Things have to get worse before they get better and harder before they get easier. At the end of the day, we as athletes have to push through, not only to better ourselves, but also to help our teammates and be there when they need us,” Ferguson says.
Along with physical therapy, athletes need to rest their injuries. However, some athletes that remain on the grind do not have that option. They choose not to waste any time at all. “I was supposed to be out for six weeks, but I came back after four weeks because I was young and dumb. Looking back, I should have been more patient with my injury,” said Davis.
Other athletes choose to not show any regret when returning to their sports early. “I was out of basketball for a few weeks but did not miss a single game and with my knee injury, sadly, it was two days before the state championship for indoor track. I had to go, so I went and competed the best that I could and ended up being the state runner-up,” said Ferguson, who has improved and is currently participating in varsity football.
The mind of an athlete is the greatest opponent. Beating that under-confident mindset is a step closer to becoming a next level student and athlete. Sometimes, a distraction from the current injury makes the next injury, if there is one, much easier. “Talking to friends or watching some of my favorite movies helped take my mind off of my knee,” says Manning.
Some athletes focus on improving themselves mentally, where their body can heal physically. “The biggest thing for me was keeping up with what the team was doing. I couldn’t do physical reps, so I made sure to get my ‘mental reps’ in everyday,” said Davis.
Perhaps the best way an athlete can cope with their injury is for accepting it for what it is. It isn’t planning on going away anytime soon, so sit back, relax, and improve other aspects of your game. Injuries don’t have to be the end-all, be-all and shouldn’t be one of the defining moments in your career as an athlete. Do everything that you need to do to get back to your game. Remember: Your game isn’t going anywhere.