Monday, September 13, 2010

Are you ready for some football?

Last weekend I was able to help out with APU football. Here is my account of the game:

I'm on the sideline with Glory. Its my favorite place to watch a football game. Walking back and forth in front of the players. Hearing the occasional burp and exclamation of disbelief of the first string mess ups. Its exhilarating and at the same time nerve racking.

Please God, don't let anyone get hurt. After doing this for a while, this becomes my prayer. It used to be the opposite. I wanted to see some action. Get some experience. Now the football players have become my friends, in a weird twisted way. Do we hang out on the weekends? Nope. Do they say hi to me in the cafeteria or between classes? Sometimes. Do I care what happens to them? Most definitely.

During this particular game, its the middle of the third quarter. We're winning. By a decent amount, too. This is just weird. Last year our record was 3-8. This year we won our opening game against University of San Diego and we're winning this game. We're just better this year. The crowd knows it. They are already starting to leave because it's almost boring watching your team smash the opponent.

I just keep praying for no injuries and keep scanning the field and the players as they come off and on. Are they bleeding? Are they excessively limping? Are they okay after that last hit from the huge linebacker? The worries never stop and neither does the adrenaline.

And then it happens. Glory is running on to the field. Crap. Why was I watching the ball for so long? I didn't scan back to the start of the play. But Glory did.

My instincts take over. Just follow Glory. I'm holding a six-pack of half filled water bottles. I know Glory once said to just put them down and run out. But I'm afraid the players won't see them and we'll have more injuries on our hands so I just carry them out to the player with me.

I finally let myself see who it is. Oh, please God, not Straz. But it is. The quarterback.

Straz is probably the unluckiest person when it comes to playing ball in college. His first game as a redshirt freshman had him on the injury list. He has surgery for it. He rehabs. He comes back to play again the next year. He's out again in one of his first games back. For a completely different injury. No surgery this time. He rehabs. This year he comes back. He's not the first string quarterback. He goes in on the field goal plays. And when we are winning. And it's not cause he's bad or anything of that nature. The first string quarterback has had to step up and play and fill those shoes. So of course he's the starter. But we're winning now. So let's rest our first string quarterback and give Straz some playing time.

When I see this, I'm excited for the guy. He's such a good player and deserves it. And then I just find myself praying again that I won't have to go out to the field for this guy. Anyone but him. You know what they say about murphy's law...

The doctor and Gloria, another athletic training student, meet Glory and I at the 20 yard line, where Straz is writhing in pain. He's crying out, "It hurts so bad!" He's clutching at his knee. I find myself being thankful he's moving and not paralyzed. Or clutching at his back.

I'm realizing my face is probably portraying shock and fear. I get a grip of myself. Time to get my game face on. What does Glory need? I see that April Reed has met us out there too. She's the head athletic trainer. The doctor says let's splint him and get him off. Gloria, April and I all stand up and put our right hand to the left arm. The sign for splint. Glory just radios the sideline. Oh right. Technology comes in handy sometimes. He also calls for the Gator.

Abella brings the splint bag out. I take it from her and get the leg vacuum splint ready. I get the pump out, too. Am I doing too much right now? Should I let April be doing this? Whatever. That starts to not matter anymore.

Glory slides the splint under his leg and he velcros it. I put the pump in and pray that the tube is on the right side. Thank God for correct labels of 'air in' and 'air out.' The air comes out of the splint and it creates a nice temporary cast for his poor leg.

The Gator is there. We stand him up. The stupid seat on the Gator won't move forward or backward anymore. It just permanently stays stuck in the back position. But it works. We have to hoist him up to the seat and carry him back. I think he's in too much pain to realize if this makes it worse. Glory tells me to sit on the side to stabilize it while the we drive away. I don't even see who's driving.

Glory tells me to also hold on to the Gator so that I, myself, am stabilized. April sees this and tries to take my place. I'm already sitting there and I know I won't fall off. I also feel somewhat protective over Straz. That I should be there. Or something. I tell her "I can do this." She lets me.

The whole offense comes over to him right before we drive off. "Keep your head up Straz" and other words of encouragement follow us as we go. My main thought is keep this leg stable. The crowd erupts in cheers and applause. I look at Straz. Yeah, his eyes are red from crying. My heart breaks more for him.

We get him to the treatment table and somehow get him on to the table. I'm pretty sure those details are now a blur. We get some redshirts to make a wall between him and the crowd. Trying to reduce the looky-loos. I look up into the crowd. My friends make eye contact with me. They shrug their shoulders as if asking 'What?' I can't tell them anything and just shake my head. The doctor does more evaluating of the knee. I hear the last thing I want to hear. ACL tear.

Not another one. Why do we even let people play sports anyways? My kids are playing chess.

We get ice bags for him because that's all we can do right now. If someone ever comes up with a cure for ACL tears that does not include surgery, that person will be a multi-millionaire.

The players make their way to Straz throughout the rest of the game. They come and pray. His dad comes down from the stands. I see his roommates come down. Ironically, roommates that have both torn their ACLs and both played football and both now don't play. And his roommates who are in the middle of playing look over. Should they come see what's up? They eventually do. Give him some encouragement. Yeah, this guy is loved. Its all about having a support system in times like these.

And now we wait. How soon will he get in for surgery? Does he need surgery? Is he still going to play football? Seeing him around school breaks my heart. But he has a relatively good attitude. Injuries are all mental anyways. You can't let them win.

I love football game days. And at the same time, I hate them.

P.S. I got Straz's permission to talk about him. Thankfully he didn't ask to read it. And he didn't ask too many questions about it in general. Like why I even have a blog? I'm still trying to figure that one out.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Dream Job

When I was in Chicago, one of the hosts asked someone what their dream job was. If money wasn't an issue and you could pick the perfect set up to do something for the rest of your life what would it be?

And that became something that we talked about. We had visionaries in our group that I think often fueled this discussion (Nicole). But its something to think about.

The other day when I was talking with my ACI (Approved clinical instructor) Darrick, we talked about what his dream setting would be. This question was sparked by his statement "I hate injuries. I'd rather focus on performance." If money wasn't an option he would open up his own facility and have every performance gadget out there. But when he was at APU, they only had athletic training, not applied exercise science. So that is why he ended up an athletic trainer.

Its interesting to see what's important to people if they could imagine the dream job for themselves.

My friend Matty P recently showed me this amazing article:

It honestly made me cry reading it because it moved me so much. Basically its about this woman named Natalie Randolph who became the head varsity football coach at a high school in Virginia. She didn't plan on it and even refused to accept the job at first. But she's in charge of 130 athletes, inspiring them to not only be good football players but also encouraging them to excel academically.

And as I'm reading that, this is my dream job. (Probably not a football coach though. I don't know enough about that sport at all.) But to be in the inner city somewhere, getting these kids to believe that they can accomplish so much more then what society has told them.

Based on what we see in our world, we have dreams of doing things, but it is not necessarily where we end up. Life leads us down different paths. So I might end up being an athletic trainer for the Chicago Bears and I'll still like it even if its not my current dream right now. How do we become match our reality with the vision we have for ourselves? And how do we know what the right choices are? And how hard are we willing to work to make it happen??

Ugh. I hate growing up.

And yet I love it at the same time.