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Battling the Odds
I’m going to tell you of a time when all odds were bet against me. A time when it seemed like it was over for me. A five-second event that changed my life and continues to change the way I think to this day. It was an event that changed the people around me and helped me understand a lot about myself. It was 2016, I was a 14 year old teenager whose athletic career couldn’t have been going any better. I was able to dominate at any sport I played and was very noticeably better than everyone else my age on the court or field. Winning national championships. Traveling to Portland, Oregon for basketball tournaments. Scoring 21 touchdowns in just six football games. Everything was going my way until a baseball was hit on a line to left-center field.
I was playing for my baseball team, the Shamrocks, in a local tournament during the early summer of 2016. This is when everything changed in a matter of seconds. In a sprint, I was chasing down a fly ball in left center field. Throwing my body out with my right arm stretched to get an out for my team. Little did I know, our left fielder had the same idea and was attempting to catch the ball on the run. After that, all I remember is laying flat on my back holding my elbow in my arms. In a matter of seconds, I was surrounded by my team and coaches after laying still on the ground for a while. I was then flooded with questions: what happened, what hurts, how’s it feel? At the time, I didn't think it was bad at all. I thought, “I’ll be able to shake it off after a while”. I remember cracking jokes while on the ground to the coaches and teammates about beating a teammate in basketball the night before this tournament. Eventually, I was helped to my feet and made my way off the field cradling my arm. My parents and coaches wanted me to go to the hospital to get an xray just in case...
After a lot of confusion and a trip to the wrong hospital, I found out that in fact it was broken.
My parents and I had been waiting in an emergency hospital room for what seemed like hours to get the results from the doctor. Until finally, we got the news and were shown the disgusting x-ray. At this time, I had just one thing running through the mind; the upcoming football season. The doctor told us that I would need surgery and should get it as soon as possible. I heard that and became very nervous and worried. I had never had surgery and did not like the idea of it. Most everything else he said after that was a blur. As he was wrapping up he asked “Do you have any questions” referring to me. “Will I be able to play football this year?” I asked with a shaky voice. He then made it very clear that I would not be able to play…
From there on, I made it a goal of mine to play that football season and to prove him wrong.
The surgery went great, we got it out of the way the night of the accident. Two pins and a lot of wire and my elbow was in one piece again. The next 4 weeks in my cast and sling seemed like an eternity. I wasn’t able to do anything which was very new to me. Sleep was hard to come by due to the pain that first week but it did start to feel better over time.
My 1st check-up appointment was a month later. Finally it was here. I had circled the date on the calendar after the surgery. My cast finally is coming off and I’ll be able to move it. This is what I remember thinking. That was not at all what happened, in fact I almost passed out in front of the surgeon when he unwrapped the cast. I wasn’t able to move it at all and when it did bend it was a feeling that I can’t explain. We took more x-rays and he informed us that it was time to start physical therapy. It was time to regain strength and range of motion.
Three days a week, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Not counting the time spent at home doing range of motion stretches and exercises. It was such a long process and showed absolutely none or very little progress each appointment. This would have made many people give up and quit. But for me, it made me push even harder and get the results I wanted. Each day, I would beat records I had set the time before and hope to see more range of motion. Finally, we began to see progress in my arm strength and it was getting straighter each time I went.
It was finally time for my second check-up, which happened to be about 4 days before my first football game. We took more x-rays and they checked my range of motion. The doctor was very impressed with how it looked. He was so impressed that he told my parents and myself that I could play football. Just try to avoid any hits to my elbow. I was filled with joy and excitement when he told me that and was ready to play. I had come to this appointment thinking he would say at least four more weeks without football.
I suited up every game that season and ran the offense as the QB. We ended the football season 6-0 winning every game by 20+. I was able to throw for 10 Tds and ran for about 12 more. The season could not have gone any better.
I learned a lot about myself through this experience. I learned that not everything will be easy for me. I learned that you will have to work for everything you want in this world and nothing worth having is easy. It taught me the lesson of staying positive through everything and that quitting is never the answer. I had to battle. The odds were against me but I won.