130 feet and a Gold Medal

It was my senior year in high school and football season is starting. Leading up to the season I attended all the offseason workouts and pushed my teammates to go as well because I know to win you cannot just show up at the beginning of the season and automatically catch on and expect to win. I was elected as a one of captains of the team and always displayed the lead by example attitude. First game comes and my team and I are fired up! We have high hopes for the upcoming season, we felt like we had strong players in key positions and confidence in not only ourselves but the coaching staff to set us up for success. I played center on offense and nosetackle on defense. For the first game my coach felt like I should mostly focus on center since I was stronger at blocking than getting blockers off me. First play is called and its a run play; a linebacker from the opposing team takes a dive at my legs. I did not see this coming and I immediately felt a pop in my right knee. I did not think anything of it until I went a another play and had trouble with lateral movement. I then limped off the field and the team doctor examined my knee and due to the swelling, warmness of my knee and how I described the injury happening he decided to pull me from the game. I was highly upset at this and begged to go back in but was not allowed. The next week I went to the doctor to have my knee checked out and an x-ray and MRI was ordered for my knee. When the results came back my doctor referred me to an orthopedic doctor. Upon visiting the orthopedic doctor he acknowledged my ACL looked abnormal and could not verify a tear so he scheduled an arthroscopic knee surgery to assess the damage to my knee. The orthopedic doctor told me this will likely end my season. Best case scenario its a cartilage tear and I may make it back to football late in the season. My surgery was scheduled and I underwent the scope. The scope confirmed not just a cartilage tear but an ACL tear as well. I was devastated when I woke up from surgery. I worked so hard in the off-season to maintain playing shape, better my approach to the game, become a leader to my teammates to have all of that taken away on the first play of the first game of my senior year. I went into a depression from this and had a hard time doing anything. My grades slumped, my relationships with my friends took a dive and pushed my family away. My head football coach noticed the change in my attitude and had a great talk with me. He told me I was young and football is not everything, I still have a life to live and tons of people who support me. I have always looked at my head coach like a second father figure and I took his advice and ran with it. All I can do now is move on to therapy and restore my knee to shape. I played football from freshman year and attended off-season workouts my entire high school career until that point. I started therapy about 2 weeks after surgery and I was told most people need therapy for 3-6 months. Being the competitor I am I was aiming for 3 months. In the mean time I was looking at another sport to compete in as I did not want to end my senior year in that manner. I then decided to play another sport and I narrowed down my choices to golf, track and field, and wrestling. I chose track and field. I spoke to the track and field coach about joining and was excited to have me on board. After my conversation with the coach I was also approached by the athletic director to join the Student Athlete Leadership Team(SALT). Joining the leadership team was a no brainer for me as I would have continued to have been surrounded by positive minded peers. In my time with SALT we would visit elementary schools and middle schools in our area and deliver stories on how sports influenced our lives. My peers in SALT elected me as vice president of the team. The spring season for track and field was slated to begin in March and with me continuing therapy I added a new goal in completing therapy by March. I ended up completing therapy in 2 and a half months in time for spring track and field. Getting in shape was a bit of a struggle considering I did not do any strenuous activity for months and I had to learn a new sport. I was a primarily a thrower but would run the 100m dash on occasion. I ended up being one of the better throwers on the team. I broke the school record for the hammer throw (130 foot throw) and on my final track meet we won gold medal on a team triathlon. A day after the final track meet was sports award night I was awarded with a plaque on displaying leadership and character through adversity. And that is my never quit story.

Author: Joseph