Injuries: students find the balance between pushing through and taking time off

Sam Kelderman, Sports Editor

Injuries. A constant word every athlete dreads to hear. They are a menace that strives to bring athletes down, and leaves competitors stranded on the sidelines during games, meets, and matches. The whole process of injuries is grueling. On top of not being able to perform, players anxiously wait for the verdict they will receive at doctor’s offices. Athletes are victorious when they receive a doctor’s note that clears them for play, but are flooded with disappointment when doctors say they must take a couple more weeks off.
The inevitably depressing nature of injuries haunts every athlete, but the reality is that they are a major part of sports. Even though injuries depress athletes and are extremely grueling, they make players smarter and brings athletes closer together.
Injuries have a profound effect on athletes persona. An athlete that is injured may feel left out of their team and their confidence may dwindle. Mens football head coach Steve Valach discusses patriot frustration on the football field regarding injuries.
“It’s depressing to be hurt,” Valach said. “Athletes become discouraged. They feel like they’re not connected anymore because they can’t practice and play.”
Valach says football players have to push through when they feel like they are hurt sometimes; it is just the nature of the sport. However, when it comes to concussions, athletes should not be playing through them.
“Football is a sport where you have to tough it out,” Valach said. “However, when it comes to head injuries, the athlete is sitting out. It is stupid and dangerous to push through a brain injury. You don’t get a merit badge for doing that.”
The injuries that athletes can’t see tend to be more dangerous because they are not quantifiable. For example, a broken arm or leg is more noticeable than a concussion because an athlete can notice severe bruising or pain. However, the symptoms of a concussion are more subtle, but equally if not more damaging than other injuries. This makes concussions extremely dangerous.
Athletes are aware that pushing through aches, pains, or minor injuries is necessary to play sports, but some athletes disregard the injuries they should not be playing on. According to athletic trainer Morten Orren, there are a lot of different factors that play into an athlete’s unawareness of the severity of their injuries.
“Some people know their bodies better than others,” Orren said. “A lot of times people who have been injured before they know how to listen to their bodies. For others, they don’t have a high pain tolerance.”
Both Valach and Orren agree that in order for injuries to heal quicker, athletes must communicate exactly how they feel.
“An athlete knows their body and what they are capable of,” Orren said. “Athletes need to tell me what is wrong and not necessarily what I want to hear..”
Coaches strategize by making the right match ups of athletes in scrimmages and practices, and also implementing the appropriate work outs at the right time of the season. If coaches are not smart about their coaching and don’t pay attention to how athletes respond to different work-outs or match-ups, then athletes are bound to become injured.
“As a coach you have to think about who to match up in a drill,” said Valach. “Strategizing the tempo of the drill is important. If a kid wants to prove himself and go 25% harder than everyone else, as a coach, you cannot glorify that.”
Regardless, athletes who are injured do not give up on their teams. They carry on the spirit and culture of the team by helping in whatever way the can. Even though they cannot play, they want to contribute to feel a part of the team. Coaches like Valach are extremely grateful for athletes like these.
“With Brandon Niblock, even with all of the adversity he’s faced, he comes to every practice,” Valach said. “He’s a servant leader, and he’s sprinting to grab stuff that we need with his one good arm. He is also thinking about things that we need for the next drill, and helps the coaches without saying a word.”
Orren also believes that injuries can improve team camaraderie.
“In the end, it will bring a team together especially if it is a key player,” Orren said. “They have to pick that person up and give them encouragement. Everyone else has to step up.”
Injuries are unfortunate and depressing, but it’s an ailment that every player must deal with. The amount of injuries depends on how smart coaches and athletes are in pre-season and during season.