Injuries put players on sidelines, teams take a hit


Gary Peurifoy

Senior soccer captain helps coach Mike Hanie on the sidelines after being benched for the season because of a torn ACL. Injuries to key players have a large effect on the results of a season, and returning that player to the field can be concerning for both the player and the coach.

Brayden Jenks, News co-Editor

“A few injuries can impact the results of a season,” varsity basketball coach Brandon Hutchins said. “Any time you lose a key player, it is very difficult to recover.”

Sports are infamous for injuries that impact both the team and the players, and the Mill is no exception.

Senior Satchel Goodrich fractured his ankle and missed most of his senior year football season. “It sucked to miss time this year with the injury,” Goodrich said. “It was really hard watching my team play without me, but they kept winning, so thank God.”

When seniors miss playing time in their final high school season, the injury can be more than just physical torment. Goodrich plans to continue to play football in college at Jacksonville State University, but ending a high school career on a bad foot can bring down the spirit of an athlete.

Any time you lose a key player, it is very difficult to recover.”

— Brandon Hutchins

Senior soccer captain and starting center back Alex Harris also finds himself on the sidelines this season. He tore his ACL in a game against Dutchtown. “I went up for a header,” Harris said. “When I landed, I landed on my right leg wrong.” His leg then turned sharply to the right, and his knee cap slid out of place, tearing his ACL in half.

“I still go to every practice and every game to help the team in any way I can,” Harris said. Harris doesn’t plan on playing in college, and this injury will keep him out of action for the rest of the season.

On the other hand, senior baseball catcher Joe Gruszka only missed a few baseball games when he broke bones in his hand while sliding into third base. “Losing Joe definitely hurt, but we are fortunate to have Will Evans who is also a good catcher,” varsity baseball coach Brent Moseley said.

When senior star players have to hit the bench, coaches have to find a way to remedy the team’s dynamic.  “I had a few restless nights trying to figure out what was best for our team,” varsity soccer coach Mike Hanie said.  “We are definitely going to miss his presence on the field.”

While a player suffering from an injury doesn’t seem like a positive, it provides the opportunity for less-experienced players to step up to the plate. “Losing [Goodrich] was huge because he was so involved on every special team and on offense and defense,” varsity football coach Chad Phillips said. “Our younger players were challenged to answer the call, step up and make plays. The back-ups quickly gained valuable experience and more importantly gained the confidence they needed to compete at the varsity level.”

Replacing a key player isn’t always the easiest thing to do, especially when a high school team is drastically smaller in size than professional or collegiate teams.  “In high school, you don’t have the depth of a college team, so you may only have one good player at a certain position,” Moseley said.

With an even smaller roster than baseball, the basketball team was fortunate to elude any big injuries this season. “We have been very lucky that we have avoided the injury bug here at Starr’s Mill,” Hutchins said. “Sports like football have several players at each position so when somebody gets hurt, it’s easy to plug another player. When you have a smaller roster like basketball, you better make sure your guys that are subs are ready to play if somebody gets hurt.”

After a player takes off the appropriate time to heal, they are ready to be put back on the court or field. This process can stress out both coaches and players. Players may become timid in the games to prevent further injury, and coaches don’t want to risk playing an athlete who isn’t fully recovered. “He must not only come back physically but [also] mentally well,” Hanie said.

Coaches gradually acclimate injured players back into the sport to keep them safe. “When a player returns we try to go slow to make sure he is completely healthy,” Moseley said. “I don’t want to do anything to prolong the injury.”

Coaches don’t want to worsen the athlete’s condition or have them on the bench for a longer period of time. Almost every team is susceptible to injuries, and when a key player goes down, it can be detrimental to a season.