WILLIAMSBURG — Feels like just yesterday I was going to my first day of summer lifting as a senior.
I had three main goals heading into the football season — complete all lifts and workouts, get up to 170 pounds and carve out an important role on the team on and off the field.
I’d like to think I was able to complete two of the three. The one I missed was beefing up to 170. I went into the summer weighing 160, and ended up stuck between 150 and 160 all year.
But I feel I made good on my most important goals.
Things, however, did not go as planned. While facing one of the hardest non-conference schedules in school history, our football team dropped our first three games — and they were in a very ugly fashion. But we did not wither at the poor start, and instead banded together and won the most meaningful game on the non-conference schedule.
There were many of us on the team — coaches and players alike — who had personal reasons for wanting beat Regina. Most importantly, though, it was a much needed win to get us out of the rut and back on track, and in perfect time for the conference schedule.
We reeled off seven straight wins and the team and I were playing the best football of the year. However, a week after homecoming — and arguably my most inspiring game as a Raider — and with only two games left in the regular season, I dislocated and fractured my shoulder. It occurred on the opening kickoff of the Albia game. I remember walking off the field knowing my shoulder had popped out, but could have never imagined the severity of it. My family ended up taking me to the hospital because the trainer and the ambulance paramedics could not get it back in place.
Despite my reluctance to leave the game, we went to the Monroe County Hospital. Doctors had to put me under in order to get me to relax enough to put the shoulder back in place. I thought nothing of it when I woke up, accept for being upset they had to cut my jersey off me.
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On the way home my mom broke the news that the doctors thought I would be out for the remainder of the football season. Hearing this news broke me in ways I never thought possible. I do not think I have ever felt worse than at that moment. Once we got back to the game, that was now over, I could barely hold back my tears when telling my coaches and some teammates the news. That whole night and the week following was a massive wave of sadness and depression for me.
But then a sliver of hope appeared in the form of a visit to Steindler Orthopedic Clinic to make a plan for my rehabilitation. I expressed to my doctor the importance of doing whatever it takes to get back on that field one more time before the end of the season. And he rewarded me with possibility of returning if I passed the MRI. Which I did, or at least enough to warrant a significantly smaller timetable that would see me return in around three weeks.
Through a lot of hard work, and potentially some pushing of limits that may have been frowned upon. I was able to suit up in only two weeks — with the help of a brace of course. Just in time for the opening round of the playoffs.
We beat West Marshall, getting some sweet, sweet revenge on a poor showing in a loss to open the season. Sadly, the reunion and the season was cut short. We ended up losing the next round to the eventual Class 2A champions.
I would not have traded that season with that group of men for anything in the world.
Next was basketball. I had originally told my family and doctor I planned to have surgery during the basketball season in order to be ready for track. That, however, did not happen.
There was no opening for surgery immediately after football, so I continued practice basketball. I played with my brace on and, despite the limitations that it brought when dribbling and extending my arm on defense, I actually seemed to shoot the ball more effectively. That is ironic since I am someone with a jumper that is classified as “broken.”
The injuries kept mounting for the team and we had three other players not currently participating. I postponed my surgery for as long as I could. My mom texted me an opening for surgery became available and I had until the season-opener to decide if I was going to do track or basketball.
I went home after school and discussed it with my family. We came to the conclusion it was best for me and us financially to go ahead with the surgery. I decided not tell anyone the news until after our first game because I did not want any special treatment since it would be my last — and only — game.
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I also wanted to keep my head focused on the game. After the game, I notified my teammates and coaches of my decision and had surgery two days later. I returned to basketball immediately after surgery, but as a manager. It was a good time. I got to manage with other friends and also keep up with the team.
I used what would have been practice time to rehab my injury and prepare for track.
Now, we are a little more than a month into the track season and the shoulder is holding up just fine. It does not affect my running in any way. I’ve gotten back to regular lifts with minimal physical therapy mixed in, and am running faster in my events than I was the year before around the same time.
The team and I have high hopes of getting four or five events to state, one or two of which I hope to be part of.
I could not be happier with where I’m at. I sometimes wish I could go back to do some things over, like maybe not diving for that ball on a kickoff. But what’s done is done, and I plan of finishing the year the best I can and with no regrets.
I know I will be happy with what I have done and who I have become.