College athletes are a different breed. They are set apart from others by their intense drive to succeed and their willingness to go through the pains that come from putting everything you have out on the field, track, rink, pool or turf day after day.
For many, this willingness comes from years of experience and devotion that not only developed their toughness, but also their love of the sport. Along with developing a passion for the sport, these many years of dedication have also made college athletes no stranger to injuries. Whether big or small, a sprained ankle or cut up knee, all athletes have experienced injuries. However, what is it like when an injury is so big that it forces an athlete to give up the sport that they have come to love?
Senior Patricia Norton knows this tale far too well. Norton was a center midfielder on the Keene State College Women’s Soccer team until she experienced a devastating ACL tear her junior year.
Norton explained that when she experienced the tear that would later take her out of the game for good, she was “in denial” and that she “tried to … play a couple days later.” This was not the first go-around when it came to injuries for Norton, however. She had experienced her first ACL tear only a year prior, one which she recovered from and was able to return to the field. “It was sad,” Norton said when asked about the emotions she felt when she received the news that she would not return to the sport that she loved.
“I’ve been playing since I was three, [I’ve played] for a very long time.” As crushing as Norton’s story is, it is not uncommon.
U.S.A. Today reports that 1.35 million youths are experiencing serious injuries that require emergency room visits each year. A large amount of those 1.35 million visits resulted in the injured being forced to quit their sports.
Even on the Keene State College campus, Norton is far from the only one to experience a situation like this.
Keene State alumna Alexandria Papadimoulis struggled with consistent injuries during her career on the track and field team. It started her junior year with a strained hamstring and tight IT band, and then led into senior year where only more problems arose. Although her injuries never forced her to give up on track, it limited her greatly.
“It’s the worst feeling in the world when you train for something even when you’re injured and your body just fights against you,” Papadimoulis responded when asked about her experience when it came to struggling with her injuries.
“It sucks being told you can’t do something you love doing,” said Papadimoulis.
Norton and Papadimoulis, as well as many other Keene State Owls, had to sacrifice the sports they loved due to unfortunate injuries, something no one should ever have to do.
Claire Boughton can be contacted