Written by Shanna Kelly
Severely injured players are bombarded with people telling them what to do as if they do not already know their reality. Doctors and parents are there to inform these players of the severity of their injuries, but I believe that the final person to dictate their return should be the player. It is clear that for some athletes, the injury is just too severe to take the risk of going back and the best answer is to walk away. But as long as the athlete is able to attain their original health, or close to it, they should have the opportunity to return to normalcy.
Nine months ago, I received bilateral hip surgeries after sustaining severe injuries from soccer. After the operations, I missed two months of school and was on bed-rest, unable to walk. The only thing that gave me a reason to fight and not break down was that I would be back on that field some day. My parents, coaches, friends and doctors all advised that I stop playing. For a time, I thought I would never see the field again.
But it is not as simple as walking away. I have not played in 15 months, but with each new day I come a little bit closer. Everything I do now is aimed at getting back on that field. National and local news accounts of high school sports injuries show that I am not alone in that experience. From surgeries to torn ACLs to concussions to sprains, the injuries are as common as the next game.
That small light of hope in the distance is the only thing that keeps injured players going; it gives us a reason to get up every single day and work non-stop to heal ourselves. What most people do not realize is that a lot of these players, including myself, are fully aware of the extent of our injuries and the extent of risk that we are taking by stepping back on that field, but that is our choice, our decision. We should be allowed to be happy, to have a ball at our feet or our cleats on the turf.