Injuries are hard on all of us

Andrei Black reflects on the ways that sports injuries affect athletes, both physically and mentally.


Andrei Black

Black, age 12, after sustaining a back injury. Photo taken by Oxana Saunders.

Andrei Black, Staff Writer

It all started with some back pain here and there. I didn’t think much about it. Slowly it started to get worse and worse making it hard for me to play tennis, the sport I loved. I kept pushing myself, not realizing what was wrong or that I was making it worse. Despite my pain, I kept playing and not taking care of myself. I didn’t stretch and played close to 30 hours a week, a task a skinny twelve year old boy could not handle.

Soon, everything fell apart. I was playing in a Level 3, 12-and-under tournament in Delray. I was fine in the beginning of the tournament, getting through my first match without any problems. My second match, however, was a completely different story. It got hotter, my opponent got better, and my body felt worse.

Halfway through the match, it became hard for me to carry myself around the court. My body was giving out, but I pushed forward, not wanting to give up. My form was getting bad.I was feeling terrible. I should’ve just retired and saved myself from a devastating injury, but I didn’t. I kept going and I still kick myself for it. One service game was all it took: boom. My back gave out.

The rest of the day was a blur. All I can remember was the pain I felt. The very next day I went to get an MRI. I needed to figure out why I was in so much pain. I hoped that the results showed only something minor.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t minor. The doctor told me I had a L5 lower lumbar fracture. My heart dropped, totally confused by the doctor’s jargon. He said I would need to wear a back brace for at least eight months. After that, I would have to do at least three to six months of physical therapy, depending on how well I healed. This meant I couldn’t play tennis for at least a year. I was crushed.

Time went by slowly, but I got through it. My back got better, my physical therapy got easier, and my mindset changed. I started to find positives from my recovery and find new interests, like golf. Before I knew it, I was fully healed and done with physical therapy. I was ready to get back to my normal life.

Throughout this entire experience I learned a lot of things about myself. I learned how to take better care of my body. I started taking more time to stretch, and actually listening to my body when I needed to stop. I also learned that being a good tennis player is only a small part of who I am. I’m also a good golfer and a really good swimmer. Without my injury, I never would have discovered either of these things. Finally, the most important thing I learned from my injury was getting stronger. I gained weight and even managed to improve my tennis skills.

Lots of athletes face career ending injuries. However, the only way to benefit from an injury is having a good attitude. If you are able to make a life-changing injury into something positive, you can learn things about yourself that you never knew before, or even find your new favorite things in life. Without my injury, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.