A dream career as a professional athlete could end at the snap of a finger, or even at the tear of a ligament.
COC’s own Quarterback Andrew Brito tore his ACL in a game versus Cerritos College in September of 2018 and while Brito is still able to return to football once he recovers, many others are not always so lucky.
This is far from being the first or last sports-related injury to happen to an athlete, even one at a school such as COC.
“Sports involving collision and contact, such as football and wrestling, have the highest injury rates in both games and practices,” stated the National Athletics Trainers’ Association.
Cheerleading is responsible for 71.2% of injuries to female athletes at the college level, making it by far the most dangerous sport for women according to The National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research.
But are these injuries that common?
“The overall injury rate in NCAA football is 8.1 injuries per 1,000 athlete exposures (games and practices combined),” the National Collegiate Athletic Association said.
According to the NCAA, there were more than 41,000 injuries out of the 25 million athlete exposures from 2004 to 2009. The percentages of these injuries means the possibility of an athlete getting injured is infinitely small. For COC, this seems to be especially true.
“A lot of the injuries we see here are simply because of athletes overusing and exhausting their bodies,” said Sarah Ehrsam, an athletic trainer at COC. “There are so many ways athletes can prepare themselves and their bodies to prevent injuries from happening. It is important for athletes to know how to take care of themselves, whether that means knowing what their diet should consist of or how they should be stretching when they train.”
Sarah Ehrsam not only is an athletic trainer, but also instructs kinesiology/sports medicine classes on campus. She emphasized the incorporation of sports medicine knowledge that goes into the training regimens for COC athletic teams.
“Even when athletes are injured we still make sure to work with their teams so that they have that teammate camaraderie when they are recovering and cannot play,” she stated. “A really important part of getting those athletes back to full health is keeping their spirits up so they are excited to get back to the game.”
This kind of work with athletes can have a strong and lasting impact.
“At times, it can be very discouraging and many times I’ve wanted to throw in the towel,” said Brito about his road to recovery after his football injury. “But with support from my family, friends and coaches I was able to get through it.”
Though he is still bouncing back from his ACL tear, Brito still plans to pursue his sport. He is attending the University of Massachusetts in the fall where he has a spot on their football team waiting for him. Brito gave credit to COC’s sports medicine department, as well as his resources through the football team.
“I truly believe from the bottom of my heart that COC has the best football program in the country,” he stated. “We are blessed with coaches who truly care and want to see as many players as possible move on to achieve their dream.”
With sports medicine advancing and being incorporated more into sports training, efforts to prevent sports-related injuries seem to be on the rise. Laws around the country are being passed to keep preventable injuries at a minimum for athletes of all ages. Such laws include Alabama House Bill 9 passed by Rep. Jack Williams in 2018, which requires coaches of youth sports to train in injury prevention and response every year. As more legislation like this spreads, athletic injuries could slowly disappear.