While the rise of participation in high school sports continues to grow, so does the trend of sports-related injuries.
According to an article from the Los Angeles Times, the increase in injury rates in the NFL can be attributed to shutting down team facilities and eradicating preseason games as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Athletic trainer Tony Mosello stated that he was surprised that the injury rates among the fall athletes (with the exception of a few serious injuries) stayed close to the same in comparison to previous years, subsequently not following the same pattern as the NFL.
“I greatly feared an increase in injuries once we resumed sports back in July; as pro leagues started back-up as well, their injury rates were through-the-roof. Not just your average injuries; a lot of catastrophic ones,” Mosello said.
One athlete in particular who suffered from a sports-related injury this past fall season is senior Page Yehling. While at lacrosse practice at the end of the month this past September, Yehling said she sustained an injury which resulted in a complete tear of her ACL and a torn lateral and medial meniscus in her left knee. This injury required surgery which took place on Oct. 13.
“I was at lacrosse practice and I was changing directions and it tore,” Yehling said.
Additionally, another athlete that suffered a sports-related injury this past fall is senior Paige McGrady. Occurring at the beginning of September during cross country practice, McGrady noticed a sharp pain shooting up her leg, making it uncomfortable to run. MRI results diagnosed that McGrady had a stress fracture in her left hip.
“During the first ‘official’ week of practice, my hip started bothering me. I ran through the pain because I thought maybe I did a workout that my body could not handle. However, it got worse over time, so I notified my coaches and I took a week off of training. Once that week was over, I tried to run again and it was still bothering me. As a result, I had to go get it checked out by a specialist that the trainer requested for me to visit,” McGrady said.
Although the pandemic contributed to an increase in sports related injury rates this past season, Mosello said that there are also several other contributing factors that may have led to this increase.
“I think the main factor is that people went so long without being able to perform at a high level. There is only so much you could do early on in this pandemic, so one’s body couldn’t be properly prepared for the physical and mental toll of sports once they returned. Training regimens were completely redesigned, at a lower intensity than ever before. I think this led to overexertion and fatigue, which obviously led to the athlete’s body being overloaded,” Mosello said.
Not only has Yehling played lacrosse throughout high school, she said recently she has signed with Rockhurst to play lacrosse in college.
“I had toured and been offered a scholarship before I got injured and while I was still talking to the coach about the program and what is best for me, a question I asked was “If I were to get injured what happens? Is my scholarship gone?” and she said that my scholarship wouldn’t be taken away. Once I did get injured, I talked to the coach and she said it doesn’t change anything for her and she is confident I will recover well. My injury actually helped me choose Rockhurst because I was able to connect with a couple girls about their experience with tearing their ACL and then going on to play in college and it really helped me feel better about my injury,” Yehling said.
As a result of McGrady’s injury, she was unable to run for the rest of the season and did not get the chance to step up to the start line to compete in any of the cross country meets. However, she said she pursued the role of a photographer at the meets, never missed a practice, and smiled the whole entire time.
“After running over 300 miles before the season and finding out I was unable to compete during my final season made me feel like all my work was for nothing. I was looking forward to running alongside the other varsity girls that I had trained with for months. However, I still felt like I was a major part of the team even though I was unable to run. I tried to keep my teammates motivated and excited for the next opportunity they would get during this strange time,” McGrady said.