Section: Sports

Student-athletes balance school with injuries

On Aug. 15, life changed drastically for Lords football standout Rob Meagher ’19. The running back tore his ACL during a preseason practice, a devastating injury that cost him his entire season and forced him into months of rehabilitation.

“I tell my friends, my family back home that I’m injured and they’re like, ‘Oh that sucks man, but at least you’ll have time to focus on school,’ but that’s just like a complete paradox,” Meagher said. “Between practice and meetings and walkthroughs, it’s the same amount of time, if not more, with rehab.” For Meagher, there was also a psychological effect of not being able to play the sport that he came to play at Kenyon. “There’s a motivation issue that I’ve experienced without playing,” he said.

Having an injury is an unfortunate circumstance for any student, but particularly  on a campus that claims to be walkable like Kenyon. However, for about a third of the student population, injuries, ranging from minor to serious, are a general expectation rather than an unfortunate accident.

“If there’s around 600 varsity athletes, I would say on any given year there’s a solid chance we work with 20 percent of that population minimum,” said Mark Teeples, head athletic trainer for the Lords and Ladies. In a facility walkthrough, Teeples pointed toward the seven medical tables in the trainer’s office and said, “On any given day at 4 o’clock, these tables are all full.” 

The athletic trainers don’t just deal with athletes so injured they can’t play; they also help players with minor injuries to get them through the season. “Someone like Rob got hurt early in preseason and he got that treatment all the way through, but there’s other athletes who get an injury and we work with them every day in order to get them through the season safely,” Teeples said.

Swimmer Paige Haden ’20 originally had one of those nagging injuries. “I ended up rolling my ankle pretty badly over the summer while I was running in about August, and due to some confusion about what the injury really was they didn’t really diagnose me until after several X-rays and MRIs until the end of October,” Haden said. She proceeded to have surgery and has been in a boot since then. Originally on crutches, once she realized that traveling around about three miles a day was too difficult, she was able to contact Student Accessibility and Support Services to get a golf cart.

As an athlete struggling through an injury, Haden’s schedule was filled before her surgery. “I started off the season trying to do everything, I was doing pool practices in the morning and at night, I was seeing the trainers for at least an hour in the evenings everyday, and I was doing PT [physical therapy] and icing, going back to the trainers for half an hour or so after practice,” Haden recalled. The grueling schedule left her little free time, especially at a school with a course load as difficult as Kenyon’s. “I was spending an hour and a half to two hours a day in the trainers that I just do not have,” Haden said.

For Meagher, he will continue rehab throughout the remainder of this academic year and will have to to sit out spring football as he prepares for his senior season, when he will hopefully be ready. Although Haden just got back in the water for the first time since her surgery on Monday, she’s not sure when she’ll be able to return to competing.

“I’ve got about three more weeks in the walking boot, then a brace and they say by that point I’ll be walking normally but whether that means I’ll be able to swim [competitively] at that point, I’m not sure,” Haden said.

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