Here is An UNSCRIPTD Journey written by an Anonymous contributor:
Every collegiate athlete talks about it. That collegiate senior season where all of the movie magic happens and you have that amazing season. That season where you accomplish your goals, hit your peak, and be named an All-American. I had that season for a weekend. It was the greatest feeling ever. It was a perfect weekend; we played in sunny Florida with blue clear skies. My dad came down to watch and was so happy for me. I was so happy for him and myself. He was my personal lifelong coach who was always there for me every step of the way. And now our hard work has paid off and I was going to have that season.
The next weekend completely changed everything.
We played in freezing twenty-degree weather down In Virginia. The dirt was rock solid hard. I led the game per usual. On a 3-2 count, I swung. The only thing I could remember was hearing a pop and I fell straight to the ground. What happened was my metal cleat was stuck in the dirt. Instead of rotating, my knee twisted, tearing almost every ligament in my body. Everyone just staring at me. I got up and my left knee was quivering and shaking like something I’ve never experienced. Something was really wrong. I got into the dugout immediately and asked for my trainer right away. At first, she thought I was fine. The inning quickly wrapped and we were on defense. My coach yelled me and said it was nothing and to go back. I remember trying to go back up the stairs of our dugout. I couldn’t walk. I was so scared. I started screaming “NO NO NO” and crawled back into the dugout. My sophomore season I partially tore my left meniscus and I remember the pain, the feeling. This was a completely different level. I sat in the dugout and immediately started sobbing for the rest of that long, nightmarish day. Whatever it was, deep down I knew, I needed surgery immediately and it was bad. I remember not one teammate comforted me. I was completely ignored. Another teammate got hurt that day and she was flocked by everybody with hug and support during the games. Only a former teammate, an alumnus who came down to watch, comforted me and hugged me when I cried into her sweatshirt after the game.
When I returned back from our road trip, not one person helped back to my apartment. Everyone turned a blind eye to me. Not even my own roommate/co-senior/classmate. I drove my crippled self home in the freezing cold and limped down a flight of stairs by myself, dragging my baggage with me. This, unfortunately, was one of the many, many times I had to do this by myself that spring semester.
The next couple of days was a blurred nightmare. My knee was horribly swollen and I had to limp horribly in order to move. I needed a large leg brace and crutches in order to move around campus the next morning. I saw the surgeon about my MRI analysis. She didn’t have an exact analysis but said I very much tore my ACL completely, torn lateral and medial meniscus, and a twisted MCL. I left the office with my trainer hysterically crying. I remember a teammate’s nasty response when I told her I possibly tore my ACL crippled the same day. In response, she giggled, smirked and told me “Oh take some painkillers and a cortisone like another of one of our teammates and you’ll be fine”. I will never forget that and how angry I was.
A week later, the surgeon examined me and said I could possibly try to play because the MRI was not completely clear. I felt like I did not have a choice when the surgeon said to try to play. I feel like I didn’t have a choice once my surgeon said that. Looking back I believed I unwillingly played being heavily pressured by my coach to make her happy. I am still infuriated with my coach. One of the main duties of a coach is to watch out for his or her players and their best interest. Putting pressure on a player who tore their ACL completely to play is not okay at all. It’s dangerous and beyond stupid. Collegiate and professional athletes get knee surgery immediately right after they injured because it is the safest course of action for their health and wellbeing. My coach was too obtuse and thought a complete ACL tear is completely playable. And what about the rest of my life ahead of me? It seemed like she didn’t consider that aspect at all when using me for her own gain. It is not ok when a player is afraid to approach their coach to get surgery when it is the sole best solution to do. My coach treated me like a personal rag doll that was ready to rip apart any moment just to squeeze me in a few games for her own benefit.
I remember one practice she would make me run around the bases and my teammates didn’t even cheer or support me. No, I did not run; I cringe-fully crippled around the bases. My so-called teammates watched me on like a freak-show. When I ran home, I felt a painful electrifying shock zap through my entire leg. It made a large crackling pop noise. I partially collapsed into the fence as I ran into it. I never wanted to do that again. Nobody even realized I was in pain or looked after me.
Eventually, it was quite obvious there was no way I could play. I remember playing and was literally crippled. It was beyond ridiculous. I got the surgery I needed a month after the actual injury. When the surgeon opened my knee, it was finally confirmed my ACL was completely torn along with my two badly torn lateral and medial meniscus. I spent a full month near the very end of the semester in a full leg brace with crutches. I did everything on my own; I drove myself there and back to school. I crutched everywhere from class to practice to games. I would crutch to all of my classes and stay till class ended like everyone else. I remember some of my professors took pity and said I did not have to attend class. I refused to be treated with pity or sympathy. I wanted to be treated like a normal person despite everything going on around me.
I was terrified to play. I was so scared. Deep down I knew this is impossible and dangerous to my knee. I never cried the fall semester and now I couldn’t count how many times and nights I cried that senior spring. The joy and excitement I expressed with my dad that opening weekend was now full of depression and suffering of what became my final season.
I still hold enormous contempt and hatred for my coach and the rest of my teammates. I want nothing to do with the program; I never want to go to another game or donate a penny. In my own perspective, my coach and team failed me.
I was sickened by the team I was a part of. After getting swept by our inner division rivals, our coach scolded us, told us not to talk to any of our parents and to be silent on the bus. Which was completely understandable because we could have swept our rivals and instead half-heartedly lose both games on a Sunday. In response to this scolding, the team laughed and giggled on the bus immediately right after. This was not the first time my team responded like this to losing. We have played worse earlier in that same season and people were laughing and giggling about whatever. But that day one of the so-called leaders of the team decided for an event to create tee shirts with the logo “276 in the NCAA, 1# in your hearts.” I could not believe what I was hearing. I came to this program to win, not to be proud of being losers and take pride in losing. The main perpetrators of this tank top actually designed the logo and put it in our group chat. Players actually put in orders for this shirt. I was so close to telling my coach after that putrid season was over. So close to showing her the players who put in orders for this shirt. But I ended up holding back because It was no longer my business and I was no longer going to be on the team after a couple of weeks. One of the team captains finally came to her senses and said it was not a good idea so it was called off.
Near the end of our losing season, a teammate of mine confided in me that a large number of my so-called teammates gossiped that I was faking my own injury. A teammate even said after I got my surgery, “Oh I heard Michiko can walk around her house. So her surgery and injury could not have been that bad.” To this day this hurts me to my core. When I finally got the surgery and came back a mummified crippled mess, the rumors were thrown under the rug. I know exactly those who questioned my injury; they were never my teammates and never will be. Why on earth would I fake my own injury when I opened the season playing the weekend of my entire life career? Why? I put my heart and my soul into that season. That season was everything to me. I stayed at my university after finals and came back right after New Years to train every day for that season. Ask any of my trainers, my personal hitting coach, my dad, if I faked any of my hard work and passion just to be where I was.
Despite all of this, I had many great friends and supervisors my senior spring outside of the team whom I spent my time with and confided in. Without them, I would have fallen into a complete depression.
Everything happens for a reason. I still question myself why did this happen? Why did I have to get hurt when I finally was about to achieve one of my life goals.
I have partially moved on with my life. Right now I am fully immersed in my job industry, which is one of my main life passions. It excites and invigorates me every day.
But deep down when I’m sad which is on a few occasions, I think about the injury and the enormous pain I endured my senior spring. It makes me tear up and cry. I cried writing this post from reliving and thinking of the pain I endured.
That spring semester, I was working at the gym one day and I had a conversation out of nowhere with my supervisor. He talked about his collegiate football career; how he redshirted after getting injured and ended up getting hurt again for his last year of eligibility. He told me that at the time he wondered why it happened to him. Years later and time passed, he looked back at his injury and said, “that’s the reason why it happened. And I’m happy it happened”
I’m still waiting for that moment to hit me why it happened. Still waiting for time to heal me.
This is my UNSCRIPTD Journey,