Injuries are a terrible, but unavoidable byproduct of playing sports.
Coaches, officials, and rule-makers can do all they want, but as long as athletes are exerting themselves in physical activity someone is going to come up hurt.
No one told me when I got into newspaper writing that what I just said about injuries would apply to me as well.
Let’s rewind a little bit (a lot) to my actual playing days that for all intents and purposes ended when I graduated high school. I count myself extremely lucky in that although I was on the field/court year-round, I never had to miss any significant time due to injury. Even if I were to come up hurt, both my parents were the type to tell me to “just walk it off,” so walk it off I would. Not everyone is as lucky as I was. I had teammates break a collarbone or tear an ACL, forcing them out anywhere from half a season to an entire school year. Thankfully pretty much all my encounters with the injury bug did not involve the word break or tear. It was most often sprains for me.
My first taste came during the season opener my junior year of playing football. I was blocking when a pile of bodies came over me and the player with whom I was engaged. I went down awkwardly on my knee and came up hobbling. This happened just after halftime, so coach had me sit out the remainder of the game. It wasn’t something I enjoyed, but a sprained knee doesn’t bend all that well and it’s a motion necessary to play the game of football. I worked my way back in the following week during what were some interesting days at practice. Our starting quarterback missed a couple days of school with an illness, and guess who the backup was. Needless to say our head coach did not enjoy the lead-up to our second game not knowing if either of us was going to be good to go. We both played that week, splitting reps under center and our team won the game like we were supposed to.
Later that same season, I distinctly remember not remembering any of the defensive signals I was supposed to be relaying to my teammates. Our defensive coordinator was just motioning away on the sideline, but he might as well have been using sign language because at the time I had no idea what any of it meant. I also don’t remember the hit I took that had me so dumb, but it must’ve been a good one.
Senior year I enjoyed another sprained knee that sat me out for another half, but this time around I was the starter at QB. The backup and I still enjoy some good laughs about that night to this day. My worst bout with an injury came earlier that same season. It was the dreaded sprained ankle I received at practice when I rolled over not the side, but the front of my foot. Some ungodly noises came out of my ankle at that moment, but the pain didn’t come until well after practice. Luckily it happened early in the week and I was good to go both that Friday night and the next day while attending a UGA football game. Walking around Athens on a sprained ankle isn’t fun, but it was necessary and totally worth it.
Now let’s bring it back to almost present day — two weeks ago to be exact. It was the opening week of football season locally and these were my assignments: GMC JUCO game Thursday night, GMC Prep Friday night, and Baldwin High Saturday night. As you may remember lightning cut the GMC Prep game short, but while waiting on the official word I and others took shelter inside the Davenport Field press box. Word never came, so I went to get it because I have deadlines. I got what I needed to write my story but of course that was when the rain fell more heavily. I — without an umbrella because I was lugging my notebook and camera situated on a monopod — began my half a block wet journey back to my vehicle. By some miracle no expensive camera equipment was dropped, but my right calf did become a casualty. My self-diagnosis was a strained calf, which, drawing from my parents’ teachings, was nowhere near severe enough to warrant attention beyond using my camera monopod as a sort of walking stick.
I’ve since bounced back from the mild injury sustained while on the job (don't tell my HR department), but remember, if you see me on the sidelines with that monopod, it might be keeping something other than my camera stable.