College athletes begin their seasons with high hopes for success, but for a few, their hopes are crushed by athletic injuries.
While injuries don’t affect an overwhelming number of Butler student-athletes, a few cannot escape the inevitable.
Ryan Galloy, head athletic trainer, said he sees some season-ending injuries but not a lot of career-ending injuries because Butler athletes dedicate themselves to the recovery process.
“We’ve had some kids that, if they didn’t have the heart and the hard work and the work ethic that they have, they would’ve had a career-ending injury,” Galloy said. “They were able to push themselves and persevere.”
Sarah Hamm, a sophomore center for the Butler women’s basketball team, found out personally about the reality of a serious injury.
Hamm sustained an ACL, MCL and meniscus injury at the beginning of conference play as a freshman last January.
She said she was initially unaware of the severity of her injury but quickly learned that it would change the dynamic of her season.
“I was really worried about the season and whether I could play or not,” Hamm said. “It was kind of an emotional blow.”
Casey Sines, a junior middle blocker on the Butler volleyball team who sustained a shoulder injury, also said season-ending injuries take a mental toll on athletes.
After her injury, Sines said it took her a while to feel comfortable with her shoulder again.
“I kept babying it for a really long time,” she said. “I kept swinging at half speed instead of going after it. It took a lot longer for me to heal mentally than it did physically.”
Although an injury appears to be a wholly negative experience for an athlete, sometimes it proves to be a learning experience.
“I got smarter watching the game,” Sines said. “I raised my volleyball IQ—my sports IQ—just from watching the game a lot and watching drills and seeing things you don’t necessarily see when you’re out there playing. “
While injured athletes are still vital members of their teams, teammates and coaches said they aim to make the athletes feel like contributors to the team.
Beth Couture, Butler’s women’s basketball coach, said it’s important for an injured athlete to still feel involved.
“To keep them involved and feeling part of the team can be really tough,” Couture said. “So I think it takes a conscious effort from the coaching staff and the team.”
Hamm said she received a lot of support from coaches and teammates.
“Butler was a great school to be at during this,” Hamm said. “I had a lot of support. A lot of my teammates actually went through the same thing, so they were able to help me and talk me through it.”
Couture said that not only does the injured athlete need support, but that the entire team needs reassurance. She said she tries to lead by example for her players.
“I really try to stay calm,” Couture said. “Obviously for the player that is hurt, but also for the team coming back. If it’s an impact player, the players have to feel confidence that other people are ready to step in.”
Galloy said that the athletic trainers are also an important part of the prevention and recovery process.
“We want to be proactive,” he said. “If something is bothering you, we want to know about it so if there’s something we can do to help you stay on the court and stay on the field, then we’re going to do it.”
Hamm said it’s also important for an injured athlete to stay positive and think about the desired goal.
“You definitely need to be focused on your recovery and do everything you can to get back sooner,” she said.
Sines said she realized that hard work and dedication through recovery pays off.
“It an injury sounds terrible when it happens, and you think it’s the worst thing that could’ve happened,” Sines said. “I think I’m a stronger person from this happening.”
In her tenth year of coaching at Butler, Couture said she has seen her athletes fight the odds.
“At the end of the day, injuries are going to happen,” she said. “You hate it, and it’s disappointing, but it’s part of the game.”