Posts Tagged ‘injury’


I cannot bring myself to watch the video of Kevin Ware’s injury. I too broke myself on a basketball court, and it would hit way too close to home to watch it from an audience viewpoint. My injury exposed more than weakened bones. Being physically broken showed me the weak spots in my emotional and mental game too.

It makes me concerned that we, as coaches and parents, are not doing enough to prepare athletes for the inevitability of injury.

The following is an excerpt from my book: Choosing to Grow for the Sport of It Because All Kids Matter and I offer it up as food for thought.

It could be the noises in the darkened hospital, or maybe it’s the overwhelming sense of helplessness, but either way, the throbbing pain partnered with my over-active brain renders me sleepless. The painkillers have numbed the dull aches in my leg and my arm, but there is no way to make my discomfort go away completely. Without an option of rolling onto my side, I stare out over the edge of the bed and past my elevated full-leg cast, while the full-arm cast rests awkwardly on the pile of pillows on my stomach.

I can see the glow of the nurse’s desk and I can hear the murmurings of patients and machines. It wouldn’t have mattered if it had been dead silent… the motion in my head is distracting enough.

“Why did this have to happen?” my sixteen-year-old brain wonders, “I have never been hurt like this. Who’s going to believe I broke my arm and my leg…playing basketball…at a practice? The orderly’s right…I need to make up a better story than that. I’ll tell people I was saving a small child from an approaching semi…my leg and arm just couldn’t get out of the way in time…that’s a better story for sure. It sounds like a reasonable explanation for why I’ll be doomed to these casts for the next six weeks.”

It is night two of my hospital stay, and I’m finally alone. My dad has come and gone on the breeze of his alcohol-filled breath. My sister has called crying to tell me our basketball team lost the playoff game, and my stupid boyfriend had even less to say on the phone than usual.  It is the first time since arriving I am lucid enough to recognize the fear, pain, and sadness have arrived. I wasn’t afraid when they talked about resetting my badly broken arm…I wasn’t afraid when the doctor explained I had fractured my tibia just below my knee cap… I wasn’t afraid as they wheeled me out of surgery and past the waiting room where my mom and soccer coach were visiting. I wasn’t afraid as the day-time conversations swirled around my mobility. “She’s going to need a specially-constructed pair of crutches. Oh, and to get around school? I guess you’re right, she’s probably going to need an electric wheelchair.”

Now, in the solitude of a crowded hospital… with only muted hallway light to cut through the darkness… the fear grows. I am afraid of the unknown.  I can’t picture what this new kind of movement will look like. I didn’t know quite what to make of this new version of myself.

Tears fill my eyes and as they start to pour down my cheeks, I have to let them fall.  I can’t move the casted arm, and the other one is painfully connected to my I.V.

“So this is what it’s going to be,” I think. Tear after tear lands on my hospital gown.

I try to compose myself, as the weight of the casts seeps past my bones and into the very center of my awareness.

“I can’t do this,” I sob to no one in particular.


This scene, in my sports story, is more important than any other I experienced. It was a stark wake-up call to how dysfunctional my relationship with sports had become. The moment I hit that basketball floor, the world I had built, and the only world I felt I understood, shattered. I had been functioning as a barely one-dimensional athlete, and I hadn’t realized it.

Successful athletes need to be physically coordinated and conditioned, but they also need to be mentally tough and emotionally stable. Who was I without the physical capacity to compete in sports? I hadn’t had a reason to contemplate that question, and I likely would never have asked it without being forced. So in the six weeks that followed my “accident” I took inventory of my worth. I had to look at my world without the physical language on which I had become so completely dependent. I was forced to gauge whether I had the internal toughness to fight through pain, ridicule, and recovery, and I had to address the gaping holes in my emotional armor.  When I emerged on the other side of that time of reflection, I was not the same person, and I dare argue, the “recovering” version was why I ever came close to attaining my full potential as an athlete.

Breaking myself was the best thing that could have happened to me. Only during the course of research for this book, did I begin to fully understand, and appreciate, why battling through that injury made me a better athlete…and a better person. Of course, I knew that the entire experience had been, as my mom put it, “character-building”, but I hadn’t taken the time to fully analyze why those weeks of immobility were so necessary. Before I got hurt, I truly believed physical work and achievement were all that mattered. Period. I had used both academic and athletic achievement as a way to distract me from the painful parts of my childhood. I hadn’t spent time thinking about the emotional fuel I had been using, nor had I considered whether my internal script was building a solid foundation for my beliefs about myself.  The only piece I had succeeded in achieving in athletics, up to that point, was my physical literacy.


The next blogpost will be about physical literacy and the ways parents and coaches can utilize the developmental tool to build physically stronger athletes.                                       fb                                              twitter-logo-1

Copyright 2013     Meagan Frank                               Choosing to Grow



Except for what I’ve seen on the news, and read on his caring bridge site, I don’t know this smiling hockey player. I don’t know his parents or his younger brother. I don’t know the record of the team for which he plays, or how many goals he might have this season, but I do know that his story has become an important one worth sharing. What I know about him is that he became, in an instant, the face of fear for hundreds of hockey players and parents around the country. He is the reason for this concerned contemplation.

It took little time for two opposing players to skate toward him at an incredible rate of speed and then collide into him from behind. It took even less time for him to hit the boards and to go from motion to stillness.

I can only imagine the hush that followed. That deafening silence that envelopes a group of people who realize that the line that we so regularly approach in sport had been tragically crossed.

In the retelling of the story I feel for his mom, and I can’t help it. It is with her I most identify. She loves her kids, she loves and supports their passion for hockey, and she has a writing niche online that covers so many facets of what it is to be a hockey mom. I can hardly imagine the heartbreak and the change in identity for everyone who’s close to this.

Photo: Richard Sennott-Star Tribune

We don’t want this. No one wants this. No matter how much we adore speed, strength, and brute force, I have to believe we are still compassionate human beings who don’t want to see the most elite among us injured too badly to play the sports they love.

Yes, I know the statistics are pretty low for incidents of the most traumatic injuries, but it is hard to ignore how prevalent head, neck and back injuries have become for hockey players. According to Canadian journalist Dave Stubbs, 2011 was the year of the concussion for hockey. He names some of the biggest players who were sidelined for concussions in 2011 like Sidney Crosby and Chris Pronger.

Because of the rash of injuries, awareness is certainly heightened, and I really hope it will start to be enough.

Hockey has evolved at a speed that matches its pace on the ice. According to the statistics at USA Hockey, membership in youth hockey increased from 200,000 in 1990-91 to nearly 600,000 participants in the 2010-11 season.

Along with the increased interest in the sport, the speed and strength of the players playing has also increased.

If you watch hockey as much as we watch it in our house, you would agree that the NHL game seems to be getting faster every year. While watching the NHL highlights of the 90’s, our 11-year-old son said, “It looks so slow.” He’s probably right, but even more important is how young players are achieving faster and faster speeds too.

Technology of the equipment is better, and the ice skates are faster than they’ve ever been. Speed camps are teaching kids how to be faster, but maybe what we need to spend more time on is how to stop. I couldn’t find a single camp that helps to teach kids how to stop well, how to brace for a ride into the boards, how to deal with a hit that they don’t even see coming.

We’re giving them speed, but the brakes are malfunctioning…and sometimes non-existent. Sixteen and seventeen-year-old boys with the speed of grown men, have a responsibility to use that speed wisely. I’m not sure what the answer is, but I cannot help but to think we’re not there yet.

I hate that the Benilde-St. Margaret sophomore lies in a hospital bed…especially if the entire thing could have been avoided.

Maybe now is the time. Maybe Jabby’s injury can be a wake-up call to start making the necessary changes to make hockey safer for the players who grow to love it. It takes just an instant to break someone. It takes time to build speed, and an equal amount of time should be spent on the stopping.

To learn more about Meagan or her current book project, Choosing to Grow: For the Sport of It, visit her at