Can you imagine training every day, doing exercises, waiting for the first game day, and then, all of it comes to a halting stop. You suddenly cannot run or even walk, and now you are forced to watch your favorite sport from the sidelines. This is the reality of the ACL injury that ends many athletic seasons.
Coach Preston Bazemore, the head athletic trainer at BT, has helped heal over 18 torn ACLs during his 15 years at BT. The injury is severe, but rarely occurs through contact. “Research shows that 70% of ACL injuries are not from contact but rather from landing or twisting awkwardly,” explained Coach Bazemore. “There is also research that shows there is a rise in females tearing their ACLs.”
One of those BT females who has recently torn her ACL is senior Catherine Seguin. While trying out for basketball she came down on her knee awkwardly and torn her ACL ending her high school athletic career. “I was upset because it didn’t seem fair, I had worked on all the muscle groups that support the knee and I had put in the hard work for the season,” said Catherine. “Then I was upset because I realized I would be out of sports for a while. Telling someone they won’t be able to do what they love to do never feels good.”
Although hearing that news can be earth shattering, many lessons can be learned from the experience. Catherine is still learning how to cope with the injury and make a full recovery. “I realized I had two options: I could be upset and have a bad attitude around everyone or I could work hard to getting back and try my best to stay stoic about it and encourage my teammates,” said Catherine. “I chose the latter. It also taught me that even if you do everything right, you can still fail. But if I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Sophomore John Brandon Wise tore his ACL recently in wrestling. He found comfort in others who had gone through the same thing as him and made full recoveries. “Seeing how many of my favorite pro football players have torn their ACLs I did not feel worried. I was surprised that the ACL was completely torn and my main concern was the length of recovery,” said John.
The most terrifying part to most athletes in tearing their ACL is the recovery process. Coach Bazemore understands the frustration of such a long process but truly believes no shortcuts can be taken. “An ACL recovery can take on the lower end nine months. There is a wide range of time, but to prevent re-tearing it or further injuries, you cannot take shortcuts,” he said.
Junior Ellie Ristau tore her ACL during last soccer season and is still on the road to recovery. The initial phase of shock that she would have to take a break from the sport she had played since she was little turned into determination for a recovery. The training staff especially Coach Bazemore is incredibly helpful to all athletes, in particular athletes fighting ACL injuries. “Coach Bazemore has helped and supported me so much. He did physical therapy with me every day after and during school and even during the summer,” said Ellie. “He has been so kind and supportive though the long process of regaining strength in my knee and has cheered me on every step of the way.”
Mrs. Jolene McIntyre, a member of the BT business office, knows about seasons ending too soon. In 2008, she tore her ACL playing soccer in an adult soccer league. “I was so worried that I would never be able to play soccer again,” said Mrs. McIntyre. “I was in a lot of pain and wondered how I was going to be able to take care of my kids and be active with them.” She tore it again in 2013 playing soccer with her family, and recently had surgery on December 2.
Although the injury can still occur no matter how many precautions are taken, there are multiple stretches and exercises to help prevent the injury. “It is important to know where your limbs are while doing training and be aware of them,” said Coach Bazemore. “Balance training and strength training while maintaining the proper techniques are also very helpful in injury prevention.”
Injuries occur in all different ways in all different sports at all different ages. To Catherine and all the other injured athletes, it is not what happens but rather how you handle it. “I think sometimes we think we are invincible, like we will always be healthy and be able to do whatever we want to do, but that is not the case,” said Catherine. “An ACL injury isn’t permanent. It is serious, but it isn’t life ending. I’d like to think of it as a minor setback for a major comeback.”