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by Dave Mark, student writer

 

No pain, no gain. No guts, no glory. Run faster, jump higher, play harder. These are all things I told myself on a daily basis to cope with the pain of high school athletics.

If not playing football with friends, I was at soccer practice, tennis practice, or basketball practice. And when off the field or court, I was usually busy wrapping my ankles, icing my knees, or gritting my teeth.

Not to say it wasn’t worth it. The lessons I’ve learned has made me the person I am today. The competition made me strong, many of the teammates I had are now friends I will keep through life, and, if you’ll excuse the sexism, sports made me a man, avoiding sexism, sports made me an adult.
Two years ago I came to the realization that my body wasn’t superhuman. I mean painful, literally. My ankle needed to be repaired and I was sick of looking silly falling off curbs and hobbling around because the tendons in my ankles could no longer support by body. Finally, in Gym 2 at the University of Hawai‘i-Manoa, during a game, I had to be carried off the court after a simple layup.
It all led back to the high school abuse.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, high school athletes account for an estimated two million injuries, 500,000 doctor visits, and 30,000 hospitalizations annually.

About 7.2 million athletes participated in high school sports in the 2005- 2006 seasons. The rates of injury only get higher for those that go on to the college arena.

Every moment spent on the field at 17 was well worth it. Although my spirit hasn’t aged, my mouth has to lie and tell people it’s 29. Going to Kaiser Permanente Moanalua Medical Center six months ago and having my right ankle surgically repaired was well worth it. Dr. Mark Santi gave me confidence going into the procedure, and before I knew it I was waking up in recovery with my leg wrapped in gauze and metal anchors in my ankle. There’s a little bit of luck involved. I had great insurance and a talented team of doctors. An employer who gives you the three- months recovery time necessary to rehabilitate was harder to come by. But there is no release in admitting the pain and making the decision to help yourself.

I plan on playing and being competitive until I’m on a senior circuit. It may help me walk unassisted. The lesson learned is that I will never wait to see the doctor again. In a song called “Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen,” by Baz Lurman, he recalls youth, and he comments to “Take care of your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.” I agree.

My ankles and knees make funny clicking noise with every step I take the first few hours after I wake up. I don’t know if my medications are working, but they make me feel better. I might be getting a little soft on my no pain, no gain motto, but I’m going back up to Gym 2 and calling for the ball. Be ready to pass.

 

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