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From Crippled To Capable: Battling Through a Sports Injury

You are on a sports team competing for a section title. You have poured your blood, sweat, and tears for this moment. You turn on your hype music to get you in the mood and feel anxious when you see your opponent for the first time. Right when the game starts, you are in the […]

You are on a sports team competing for a section title. You have poured your blood, sweat, and tears for this moment. You turn on your hype music to get you in the mood and feel anxious when you see your opponent for the first time. Right when the game starts, you are in the zone and ready for anything… until you take a rough fall and end up having to sit out for the rest of the game…or more. 

From sprains and strains to broken bones and concussions, injuries are the unfortunate reality for athletes of all levels of competition. Unfortunately enough, I can relate after tearing my ACL during a soccer practice in March 2022. After almost a year of surgery and crutches and brutal physical therapy sessions, I am still not completely recovered. Though the circumstances of my injury are not ideal, I am not alone with many other senior CB athletes who have similar stories of sports setbacks. 

Baseball player Nick Goldberg (‘23) shares about his slow injury on the diamond. “It wasn’t an immediate injury like an ACL tear or something popped — it was a chronic injury and it was cumulative over a long time. I first started experiencing a lot of arm pain my junior year and then it really persisted. When I went to the doctor, they told me that I tore my labrum in my shoulder”.

Now committed to playing baseball at Tufts University, Nick has come a long way since the beginning of his injury. The process of recovery is already difficult within itself, but attending the games and practices while just sitting there and feeling completely useless is on a different level of hard. “It is really tough to watch my teammates and my friends play and I’m not able to play,” Nick says. “I’d say that is the only hard part about it.”

Sure, you can cheer on the bench and go collect out of bound balls. But it is just not the same as playing in the sport. After breaking his clavicle, football player Antonio Cabrera (‘23) can attest to this statement. “After dedicating so much time and effort to playing the game, it was definitely rough,” the senior says. “I had to sit out and watch everyone play the game that I love”. 

Antonio in his sling🥲

Though the process of watching your team play is not easy, Antonio was able to have an optimistic outlook. “It definitely takes a hit at your spirits and you might feel down, but just hold your coaches, teammates, everyone else around you, hold them close to you”. 

I couldn’t agree more. Coming from personal experience, injuring yourself might seem like a weak and lonely process, but there are so many people who are cheering you on from afar. Especially if you are planning to continue playing the sport after the injury, it is crucial not to isolate yourself from your coaches and teammates but to show up to games and some practices. They need you just as much as you need them.  

Tearing one of my ACL’s is enough for me, but basketball superstar Ofa Po’oi (‘23) tore both of her ACL’s within a two-year span. “It was really like a rock-bottom feeling”, she says. “I feel like a lot of athletes can relate to this when they say that they feel like their worth is grounded in their sport. So when you lose the opportunity to play in a sport, it’s like, what do I have to offer?”

Feeling purposeless is honestly the worst part about being injured. Many athletes — myself included — spend so much time in sports that we can’t imagine a life without it. When you get such an essential part of your life taken from you, there is a feeling of powerlessness because you basically feel like you have nothing to bring to the table.

Sport injuries may seem like the end of the world in the beginning, but it definitely gets better. The best advice I can give to anyone who is recently injured is to DO YOUR PHYSICAL THERAPY. You don’t want to get yourself re-injured (like me) and have to elongate your clearance date. Most importantly, don’t feel worthless just because you are unable to play. Ofa couldn’t have said this better: “Stop grounding your worth in your sport. You are so much more than what you can do on the field or what you can do on the court. You are so much more than a sport.”

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