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Sports

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Growing numbers of serious injuries sideline athletes

By GLENN BILLMAN and CARMEN VESCIA

Staff Reporters

Sprinting down the field, she gasps for air and sweat trickles down her face. All that matters is reaching the ball. She can hear the thud of footsteps quickly approaching. Suddenly, the wind is knocked out of her as she collides with an opponent. She loses her footing and crashes to the ground. Her foot is pinned underneath the other player. Her leg is held fast as her torso twists. SNAP! A sharp pain shoots up her leg. She tries to stand, but falls. Her face contorts as a wave of pain floods her body. It’s over. One faulty step, misjudged tackle or swift kick is all it takes for an athlete to tear a ligament, break a bone or even rupture an organ. Sophomore soccer player Carly Ao- zasa was forced to watch from the side- lines as her teammates prepared for the upcoming season because she tore her medial collateral ligament (MCL) at a soccer tournament, but continued to play, further damaging it. “You’re in a mindset where you don’t care about anything else but the game,” Aozasa said. “You put soccer before

else but the game,” Aozasa said. “You put soccer before Photo by Glenn Billman “It kills

Photo by Glenn Billman

“It kills me every second I’m not out there with them,” sophomore Abby Mejia said. Mejia has been forced to watch soccer team from afar, due to a torn ACL.

your body.” Many athletes have become accus- tomed to the sometimes dangerous physicality of sports. “Probably about half the people [on the team] have been injured at one point or another,” sophomore soccer player Phoebe Hopp said. “I think it’s more demanding than people realize. There are no pads. A couple of weeks ago I got kicked in the face, but you’ve

just got to roll with it.” Varsity girls soccer coach Melissa Schmidt knows how difficult an injury can be. Her soccer career ended early, at the age of 19, when she blew out her knee playing in Sweden. “If you’re really competitive, you don’t want to quit,” Schmidt said. “It was hard to lose the sport.” Soccer players are not the only ath- letes who have experienced injury this

fall. Freshman wide receiver Anthony Escobedo was confined to a wheelchair after he cracked his spleen as a result of a hard hit during a football game this past September. He spent a week in the hos- pital, and then two and a half weeks at home before he returned to school. “When I‘m in a wheelchair, you know, I can’t do a lot of things I used to. I have to take it easy,” Escobedo said. Freshman Sisihangale Haunga, a run- ning back and line backer, cracked his tibia and fractured his fibula during a tackling drill on Oct. 8. “When I went in to the hospital, they said they would put screws in my legs and then [shape] it back to place,” Haunga said. “[The doctor] said my leg [was] too fragile to go to school. He [didn’t] want it to hit things and shift inside.” On Nov. 15, Haunga got his cast off, and returned to school after over a month of absence. However, his leg will not be completely recovered for another four to six months. Despite the setbacks of being in- jured, Haunga, Escobedo and Aozasa all maintain the hope of playing next year. “I don’t think [my injury] will affect my future,” Aozasa said. “If anything, I’ll go harder.”