Mind over matter

Someone told me once that it doesn’t matter how hard you fall; if you want to, you’ll get back up.

Imagine this— there’s five seconds left on the clock, your basketball team is trailing by three points and it’s your possession. Your shoulder starts to buzz and you can feel it in your neck, your ear and all the way down your arm. Do you stop and sit out or push through and make the shot that could potentially make a historic win for your team?

From the sidelines I see athletes of all background get thrown, pushed, shoved and elbowed on a regular basis. Not because they want to, but merely because that’s the game.

Recently I saw a video on my Facebook timeline about a girl who ran on her high school track team with multiple sclerosis. In Kayla Montgomery’s case, the M.S. blocks the nerve signals from her legs to her brain. As her body temperature rises she begins to lose feeling starting in her toes and by the end of the race she has no feeling at all.

Her dedicated coach stands at the finish line every race and stretches his arms as she collapses because she can’t physically stop herself.

The New York Times wrote an article about Montgomery’s journey as a member of the track team at Mount Tabor High School in North Carolina. As a senior who graduated in May 2014, she has won the North Carolina state title in the 3200-meter race with a time of 10 minutes 43 seconds, which ranked her 21st in the country.

Montgomery continuously pushed through pain to do something she loved and still does. According to The New York Times, Montgomery was in disbelief about colleges being open to her running with M.S. because she didn’t think colleges would be able to adapt to her special circumstance. Montgomery’s search was over in early March 2014 when Lipscomb University asked her to sign a cross-country and track and field scholarship contract with them.

USA TODAY did a research article on sports injuries in young people in 2013. Emergency room reports in 2012 show that the most common injury was a strain or sprain, tallying at 451,480 people and the next highest injury being a fracture at 249,500 people. The top sports to cause injuries are football, basketball and soccer and in the bottom three are cheerleading, gymnastics and track and field.

Athletes have to deal with pain during practices and competitions. As a reporter I hear every day that “practice makes perfect.” Athletes are pushed to do their best, and if they didn’t want to do their best, they wouldn’t be doing what they do.

I competed on a nationally ranked all-star dance team for four years and before that, danced recreationally on a team for 10 years. I’ve had rolled ankles, broken bones and sprained wrists one too many times. I never thought any of those minor things would end my career. My dancing was cut short after I had back surgery from a birth defect in my spinal cord. I didn’t have a choice. My dancing career was over.

I didn’t think much about how all my injuries could affect me when I’m older.

Athletes deal with pain and injuries everyday, but they don’t let it stop them. Montgomery proved that what other people called an issue wasn’t an issue for her at all. Athletes prove they can push through pain and put their mind over the matter.

Column by Kelsey Randolph, Assistant Sports Editor

1 Comment on "Mind over matter"

  1. Jeri Randolph | March 6, 2015 at 1:09 pm |

    Great article. And you are right. Those injuries can come back to haunt you when you are older.

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