They Charge Onwards

This play could make my career or end it. Is that the thought running through the players’ minds as they take the field?

That answer is simple for senior and captain of the football team Audry Horn. “I love the game. I just like playing the game,” he said. “I love the contact, and I love hitting people. Injuries are inevitable; it’s just part of the game. If you play thinking that you’re going to get hurt, then you will get hurt. If you play 100 percent all the time, your chances of getting hurt diminishes quite a bit. If an injury is going to happen, then it’s going to happen. You can’t really stop it.”

Sophomore Samy Johnson also loves the game. Johnson said, “Football, to me at least, means that you just go out there and have fun. You get the opportunity to meet a lot of new people who play the same sport, have contact, and, at the end of the day, we all just play for the same reason. You meet a lot of new friends playing football, lifelong friends.”

Some, like sophomore J. Matt Rogers, aren’t so lucky as to get to do what they love. “I just had my third concussion, and it was a really bad one this time. I had to go to the hospital and my parents and doctors recommended that I didn’t play anymore,” said Rogers. “Football meant a lot to me, and that is why it was so hard leaving. It was what I looked forward to during the day. If I was having a bad day, I could go to practice and let off steam, and on Fridays hearing everyone yell when offense scored a touchdown or getting to celebrate with Samy or things like that just meant a lot and was really important to me.

“I also had to have major knee surgery last year because I got staph infection and it inflamed my whole knee,” said Rogers, “but having the surgery just made me want to play football even more. I missed sweating. Whenever you’re cooped up in a bed and you can’t go do what you love, it makes you want to go do it even more.”

Ms. Christy Mabrey, the school nurse, has a differing view on football however. “For children, football and bicycling cause the most concussions or TBI, traumatic brain injury,” said Ms. Mabrey. “It’s interesting with all these statistics and the knowledge, that people still want to play football, but people still want to bike and play soccer too. I had three sons and one of them played football here. I was a little concerned about injury but not too much. My son who played golf, in fact, actually had the worst injury. He dislocated his patella and had to have surgery.

“According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention),  from ages five to fourteen injuries sway more towards bicycling, but once you get to teenage years it sways more towards football,” said Ms. Mabrey, “but you can clearly see why because that is what a lot of people in those age ranges are doing.

“I do know, though, the one statistic that I find a little disturbing is that when you get permanent brain damage it comes from repeated concussions, and it normally starts in high school, so that’s bothersome.” said Ms. Mabrey.

Mr. Clark Taylor, the trainer for the football team, takes a more optimistic approach to safety and health of his players. “Athletes tend to be more competitive, injured or not, and injuries even tend to cause competitiveness. They want to heal better, to be stronger, to be faster than the next guy,” he said. “So far this year we’ve only had one guy who requires surgery and will be out for the rest of the season. We have also been very fortunate this year on the number, below three a week, of injuries that can have the possibility of player removal from competitions. Last year we had the injury bug where we didn’t have enough healthy guys to put a JV team together, but I think football has been changed and it’s safer now than ever.”

Mr. Taylor said, “I played football in high school and I don’t know that anybody knows why they play football. It’s just the thing to do. If guys were jumping off a bridge was I going to jump, no, but that’s just what you do. You stay active and athletic and play the games you like.”

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