Tackling Rehab

A football player’s story of recovery


photo courtesy of Karen Fuchs

Ben Fuchs sits on the sideline after tearing his ACL against Denver South.

It’s every athlete’s worst fear. The dreaded day when you go down on the field and can’t get back up.  Injuries in sports are as common as a free throw in basketball.  It seems like every other commercial break in the NFL is due to a blown out knee, torn hamstring, or broken bone.  These tragic accidents can ruin an athlete’s season and put a real damper on their entire life, but luckily there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

At our first home football game, and third game of the year, I was finally feeling like I was getting into the swing of the season.  Everything seemed to be going my way.  I was making plays, improving my game, and having fun.  That was when I stepped onto the field for the last time.  I tried to make a cut and my knee gave out.  I felt a disgusting pop, and laid motionless in the middle of the field, fearful of whether I’d play again this year.  The team trainer performed several tests and gave me the three letters no athlete ever wants to hear come out of his mouth, ACL.

Going through the recovery of any sports injury is not an easy thing to do.  Tearing an ACL requires surgery, intense physical therapy twice a day, and nine to twelve months of not being on the football field.  Injuries demand enduring pain, staying motivated to do the work of rehab, and worst of all, watching your teammates from the sidelines.

I often look back and think of all the small things that could’ve changed my situation and made this whole endeavor never happen.  What if the running back hadn’t bobbled the ball? What if I had been on the other side of the formation? What if I had come off the field the play before?  What if…?  All these questions pop into my mind along with the thought of why this had to happen to me.  I’m not much of a spiritual or religious person, but sometimes I believe things happen for a reason.  So many unfortunate things have come out of this ordeal, but at the same time many positives have come as well.  It’s given me a reason to work hard in the offseason and do everything in my ability to be my very best next year.  Not a day goes by that I don’t wish I could be out on the field, and that pushes me to work even harder in my rehab.

Sports injuries can seemingly ruin a season for any athlete.  It may seem like your life is falling apart and there’s no hope for your dreams.  Yet I challenge those who are injured to find the bright side of what has happened and realize that there is always light at the end of the tunnel.  It is important to understand that anything can be overcome and that nothing is impossible.  Through my experience I have found that an injury can be distressing in the moment, but moving forward it makes you into a better and stronger human being.