October 27, 2016

Student-athletes struggle with injuries and their love of the game

Alli Ferguson told herself after her second MCL injury she would quit soccer if she was injured again while playing at Webster.

“I have thought about quitting so much,” Ferguson said. “It’s just too important. I am not going to give up now.”

Unfortunately, student athletes at Webster deal with injuries all the time, including Ferguson.

Ferguson, a student athlete at Webster, has been dealing with injuries for most of her soccer career.

Ferguson’s injuries include two torn MCL, compartment syndrome in both legs and a pelvic avulsion fracture. Ferguson said she needs surgery after the season, due to a leg injury, but is currently playing through it.

Ferguson said she is playing while hurt not only because of her love for the game, but also because of what soccer does for her on and off the pitch.

“You get a lot out of it as a person,” Ferguson said. “You get taught a lot about perseverance coming back after injury after injury.”

Ferguson said she has to constantly take care of her leg and calf before and after playing but she still struggles.

“My calf gets to be the size of a soft ball if not bigger throughout playing,” Ferguson

Ferguson has built a lot of close relationships through soccer over the years. She said those bonds are another reason why she is so hesitant to hang up her cleats during her final season at Webster.

“I grew to love soccer because I shared it with my dad,” Ferguson said. “As far as my teammates go, I have made so many friends that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”   

Max Fecske, a student and former left fielder for Webster’s baseball team, said relationships and teammates are crucial when it comes to dealing with injuries. Fecske thinks when teams rally around a player, good things can happen.        

“When guys can unite behind one cause and really come together, that’s how championships get won,” Fecske said. “That’s how teams really succeed.”

Fecske tore a ligament in his arm playing baseball and after surgery never was able return to his former performance. Fecske said he was not where he wanted to be physically after the surgery and was frustrated he could not perform at the level he was used to.

“I was driving myself crazy getting results that were not the results I felt I should be getting,” Fecske said. “Your body physically won’t allow you to do it.”   

Fecske said he dealt with his energy by channeling his love of baseball into other outlets. He has interned at a sports radio station and called some play-by-play on the radio. Fecske has also worked with young players at his former high school in California.        

“I am still involved in the game, I just can’t play everyday,” Fecske said. “Having played college baseball, being able to go back and help other guys do it, that’s really the ultimate way to give back.”

Tyler Kendrick, an injured student athlete at Webster, also said the support structure built with teammates is important when dealing with an injury.

“They all know I’m actually a part of the team and that I belong there,” Kendrick said. “They help me out and keep me involved in stuff.”

Kendrick, a freshman, cannot play soccer his first year at Webster because of a leg injury he suffered off the pitch.  Kendrick said he was disappointed not to be able to play his freshman year, but saw an upside to his injury.

“I am able to concentrate on school more,” Kendrick said. “I am getting into a good transition for school and not just soccer.”

Kendrick also said time off the pitch helps him study the opposing teams’ strategies.

“I can learn how they play and can move myself in their shoes,” Kendrick said. “I can see how the coaches coach and see what I can do to make them happy.”   

Scott Kilgallon, director of athletics at Webster, said injuries are a part of sports and the university takes measures to properly monitor student athletes.

“We make sure the students check in with their coaches and certified athletic trainers,” Kilgallon said. “We want to get them in as quick as possible so they can do an evaluation.”

Kilgallon said it is important to stress a balanced lifestyle to student athletes at Webster. He said coaches at Webster do a good job when it comes to pushing athletes to their greatest potential and then balancing it with recovery and rest. However, even Kilgallon admits it is easier said than done.   

“I know myself when I was in college, coaches tell you to take it easy, and then you over-train,” Kilgallon said. “That’s the competitive nature of people.”

Kilgallon said when he was coaching he always tried to get his players to take advantage of the easy times.

“Your easy days are as important and maybe more important than your tough days,” Kilgallon said. “You do need that recovery time.”

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