Injured Urban Blues working towards recovery

For many athletes, it is a reality that life is riddled with the occasional minor injury. These injuries may keep athletes icing on the sideline for a game or two, but the recovery is fairly minimal. Every once in awhile, an athlete suffers an injury that keeps them from their sport for an extended period of time. These more severe injuries can have implications on more than an athlete’s sports life.

Soccer player Aidan Ryan (‘18) was kept on the sidelines for ten months due to a stress fracture in his lower back. Goalkeeper Jack Fatheree (‘18) suffered a concussion last soccer season.

From what I gather,” Fatheree said, “I went up to get it [the ball], someone hit me in the chest and I fell, hit the back right part of my head, and was just out.” He still does not recall what happened; the story has only been recounted to him.

Freshman Luka Hecht (‘21) suffered his long term injury during the first ten minutes of his very first soccer practice this year. He was jumping for a header and landed on the outside of his foot, fracturing his fibula.

Sophomore Clayton Reid (‘20) sprained his anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament and bruised the underside of his patella while fencing for the US National Team in an international tournament.

Senior Lily Niehaus (‘18) developed fractures in both shins from intense cross country and track running that exacerbated her shin splints.

Each of these injuries affected, or is still affecting, these athletes in prominent ways.

Ryan and Fatheree both expressed frustration with their preliminary steps towards recovery. To get started, Ryan did physical therapy for three months. “It was super frustrating because I couldn’t run,” Ryan said, “I missed the whole ski season too.”

Fatheree spent two weeks in a dark room doing nothing but resting his brain. He recalls not having any substantial thoughts. “I could think primarily what was happening to me,” he said, “like ‘I’m thirsty, I need to get water,’ but there were no background thoughts for at least two weeks, which was scary.”

Niehaus still feels soreness where she broke her shins. She can’t sprint anymore and instead has to do bike sprints. Niehaus explained that her commitment to Urban’s running teams was an obstacle in her recovery process. “The problem was that I was one of the team leaders,” she said, “I was captain last year so I couldn’t really quit.”

Such sport-related injuries also had implications on the athlete’s’ academic lives. Hecht explained that “Not having the ability to play is like not having the ability to breathe basically.” Fatheree had to rearrange his schedule because of the concussion, which kept him out of school for three weeks, causing him to miss out on two classes he planned on taking. He will be taking Remaking America this year, as a senior. Fatheree also suffered short-term difficulties with memory. “I would read something and forget what I read,” he said. “You know when you get up and go to a room to get water and then forget why you were there? That would happen to me like five times a day.”

These injuries not only took a toll on their athletic and academic paths but on their emotional wellbeing. Hecht notices being less himself while injured: “My normal personality is diminished, I guess you could say I’m greyer.”

Not being able to exercise, Ryan said, “made me less happy” because “I felt like I was wasting my time. I would get home at three and do nothing but homework.”

Niehaus said that her shin pain “made it [running] more emotionally painful than physically.” She recalls being disappointed in her body’s failure to perform due to extreme pain. “I couldn’t finish a run one day. I was just crying because I was so upset. I had tried so hard to get to this level and then I just couldn’t run. My body was ready but my shins weren’t ready.”

“It snaps you out of your normal routine,” said Reid, “you feel like you’re missing something,” adding that “it kind of messes with your head when you can’t do something that is pretty much the biggest part of your life. He explained that, “knowing you’re missing it and that when you get back you may not be as good as you were is a scary feeling.”

These injuries clarified the athletes’ feelings towards their respective sports. Reid’s dedication to fencing was elevated during recovery. “It definitely showed me that I care a lot more about it than I thought I did.”

“I think what I learned,” said Ryan, “is that without soccer, without having something to do every day, or something to improve on, I kind of lose sight of what matters. I felt really average without soccer. I felt like just another student and I feel like soccer makes me stand out.”

For Niehaus, the continued pain her injury has caused has taken some of the joy out of her sport. Niehaus said, “It made running a little less of a positive thing. Having pain a lot of the time and just running through it can get kind of tiring.”

Fatheree explained that he is more cautious towards injuries, “Because one more concussion and I can’t play sports ever again.”

Ryan occasionally has to stand during class because of back pain. Reid notices a decreased fitness level. Fatheree has to be more cautious than ever with headers. Niehaus still struggles with the affects of her fractures. However, all of these athletes are for the most part recovered- and Hecht is on his way.