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.