The final quarter: The impact of career-ending injuries

Athletes are always at risk to sustain a career ending injury. Whether it is at the professional or high school level, it can happen to anyone.

All sports require some athletic output, so any athlete can have an injury in any sport. English teacher and football coach Brian Baertsche broke his collarbone in game two of his senior football season at Thomas Worthington.

“Our last winning season was my sophomore year,” Baertsche said. “My senior year, starting at quarterback, I thought we had enough talent to win seven or eight games.”

Many athletes, like Baertsche, look back on their time as athletes after going through an injury of that scale. Often, they feel that there would have been a much more positive end to their career without the injury.

Baertsche said he feels that, “if that didn’t happen, we definitely could’ve had a much better year and years to come.” He also said that he “wishes we could have seen what would have happened.”

One side of injuries that many people do not see is the perspective of the coaches. Most coaches have had players go through injuries like this and have to help their athletes get through the tragic circumstances.

Social studies teacher and wrestling coach Scott Tressler said, “I have had a kid that had a tumor in his hip and a kid who had double shoulder injuries, which were both career ending.” He said, “Athletes have ups and downs, and an injury is an obvious down, but how you come out on the other side ultimately makes you a better person.”

Infographic by Sophia Leonetti

Although these injuries can end an athletes career playing the sport, there are still other ways they can stay involved. Baertsche is one example of using coaching to stay in the game and Tressler has seen many of his own athletes go on to coach after a tragic injury.

“I had one athlete who was restricted from continuing his competitive career, but today he is coaching wrestling at the high school level,” Tressler said. Many athletes see coaching as a way to pass on their knowledge of the sport.

However, the coaches still hold a big role in preparing their athletes to compete safely and without injury. Training and stretching are huge contributors to this.

Tressler said that training is a “huge deal,” but he also said, “Most athletes at some point understand what they are signing up for. You can try to prevent it and be prepared, but some people are just more susceptible to injuries”

From a medical aspect, there are measures that players can take to avoid these kinds of injuries. It is important that coaches talk to the athletic trainers and tell athletes how they can prepare.

Athletic trainer Tyler Patton said, “The best thing athletes can do to prevent any kind of injury is get proper hydration and nutrition, and get at least seven hours of sleep.” The most common injuries are “those associated with dehydration, malnutrition and sleep deprivation,” Patton said.

When it is all said and done, nothing can completely prevent a career ending injury, but there are measures athletes can take to lower the chance. Just remember, any game, match or play could be the last, so play every play like it is.


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