Tragic Injury Leads To New Opportunities


Playing the scrimmage match minutes before my injury

I was running and concentrating on only what was in front of me, hearing the loud drums from the school bands and crowd cheers, and feeling the smooth breeze from the wind. I was innocently playing the game that I fell in love with. But then, I felt a sudden and awkward turn of my leg. And a pop that I thought was nothing turned out to be my everything. 

I went from running full speed across the field to feeling an uncomfortable tightness in my leg as I started slowing down. I did not want to be seen as tired and weak, so I continued to push through, driven by my pride and determination to finish. It was a decision that I would later regret, because it could’ve made my injury less severe and ended up closing my glance at hope of playing at some point of the season.

During the Red and Black Scrimmage, which was held weeks prior to the first official game of the season, I tore my lateral and medial meniscus. During the match, I did not feel as if I had completely torn anything due to my adrenaline, so I continued to play with my meniscus tear for about thirty minutes to complete the scrimmage. At the end of the match, I began to feel that something was not right in my knee area and went to an orthopedic days after the incident. 

 The MRI confirmed my worst fears: I had torn my meniscus and I would not be able to play for the rest of the season. 

One of the hardest obstacles while I was sitting out was watching my teammates play their matches. Before every kickoff, I would create a false sense of reality and imagine myself playing in the game and being ready to play alongside my teammates. 

 Watching the games from the sidelines was difficult because I would reminisce about the emotions and adrenaline players on the field tend to feel during a match. Watching my teammates play a match and thinking that I could not physically help them out and give them a better chance at winning hurt. 

I missed soccer matches under the lights, the hype and indescribable feeling players get during late night games. The bright lights, the warm weather, the beautiful breeze in the air, and the feeling of high quality turf. I felt like I was missing out on the full experience by not having the feeling of adrenaline running through my body. It slowly started to make me forget the feelings that made me fall in love with the sport. 

On several occasions, I caught my eyes getting watery, wishing that I had never injured my leg and replaying the moment I tore my meniscus over and over again. What made my situation more tragic was when my teammates would come up to me while I was sitting on the bench and make statements such as: “Man, if you were out there, we would be unstoppable,” or “I wish you never got hurt, things would be different.” Statements like these gave me a sense of regret and the false idea that I could’ve done something to prevent my injury. 

Yet, rather than looking at my unfortunate situation in a negative perspective,  I tried to take something from the experience and help apply my leadership skills to help my teammates in the best way possible. Rather than allowing my unfortunate injury to dig me into a mental hole and cause me to think negatively for the rest of the season, I decided to continue to support the team and take on a leadership role for all team members, especially the underclassmen. 

Throughout the season, I continued to attend practices, games, meetings, and hang out with my teammates as much as I could to guide them in the right direction, both as a player and individual. Although all the players on the field play and work hard together, I feel that each player focuses on their own responsibility on the field and are often not fully aware of how and if their teammates are fully doing their responsibility. 

On the sidelines, I felt that it was my responsibility to help guide my teammates and inform them and give advice on their play and at times give constructive criticism on how they could improve as a player. At practices, I would help motivate my teammates to work harder on their drills and give them advice on how to better improve on a certain drill or how to react to situations differently. 

 At the end of the season, I received the Coach’s Sportsmanship award for my determination and encouragement of my teammates while I was on the bench.  Although I did not play my senior year, I learned how to become a better leader. Yes, players are leaders on the field, but through my setback I was able to see the team as a bigger picture: I could see player progression, and coaches’ intentions. I gained insight into why coaches make certain decisions that I could not understand from the vantage point of the field.

Suffering from a severe injury doesn’t mean it is the end. New opportunities were offered to me due to my injury. I was able to help manage the team during games and was able to dedicate more time and effort into the Glenbard East Echo, which I would not be part of if not for my injury. Joining the school newspaper allowed me to get a glimpse at what my sports journalist dream job would look like. 

 It is not the injury itself that causes one to feel lost and sad in the long run,  it is what the person who suffered the injury has done and what they do to stay busy and take their mind off their tragic injury. We are not defined by our setbacks or obstacles, but by how we respond and overcome them.

I encourage all student athletes to appreciate every moment you play and to play like it’s your last because you never know when a sudden injury or bad event may happen. Cherish the moments you have both on and off the field with your teammates, because like all good things in this world, it will eventually come to an end.