Comeback, by Annika Ermold

Hi everyone! It’s crazy to think that we will soon be in championship season for high school track. This season has flown by very quickly, and before we know it districts and states will be rolling around. It is also crazy to think that I will be graduating in less than a month, these four years of high school really do fly by. With that being said, my senior track season has been filled with many obstacles, but I will be writing about how I overcame an injury and how I pushed through mentally and physically to get back into competition.

Ah, senior year. The one that everyone dreams of, especially athletes. This is where everyone usually has high goals set for themselves, with it being their last year of high school. Some dream of making the state meet, breaking school records, being a state champion, and other goals that may be on the line as well. At the beginning of my senior season, I was not even sure if I would be able to live out and work for these goals of mine.

To start, the beginning of my senior track season started slow. I had a scrimmage in late March, which did not go bad but I had to compete in horrible conditions (Raining, below 40 degrees). Two weeks later was the official start of my season. This week I had a dual meet on Tuesday and my first big invite that Saturday. I was more focused that week on the invite, but I had competed in our dual meet Tuesday, which I did well in. I tend to use the dual meets more as practice for the bigger meets, so I used that dual meet in preparation for the invite that weekend. After the dual meet passed, I had my eyes focused on the big meet, the Hempfield Black Knight invite. This was my first big invite for my freshman year, and where I first was really exposed to some competition. I had a great time when I first went, so I was looking forward to hopefully experiencing that again. I woke up that Saturday morning feeling ready to go, lots of adrenaline running through my veins, and I was just excited to get the chance to compete. Shot put was the first event of the day at 8:30, and I overall did really well considering the conditions (threw mid 39’s, downpouring for 10-15 minutes then sunny for 30 minutes, repeatedly). I had a couple hour break, so I used this time to start visualizing for discus, and used some tips that my sports psychologist had given me. Discus time rolled around, and I was ready to compete. I did my usual warm up routine (stretching, some mobility, then warm-up throws). I decided to take an extra warm-up throw to make sure that I felt 100% ready to compete, and then all of a sudden my life flashed before my eyes…

In just one second, I went from taking a warm-up in the circle to lying on the ground in pain. I could not even at first comprehend what had just happened to me. I had just badly rolled my ankle, and had no idea how it even occurred. This was not just a little roll where one can rest for a couple of minutes and be fine, this one was bad. After I was on the ground for a couple of minutes, multiple people came over to help carry me over to my chair, which was about 30 feet from the circle. I was crying out a river, as I had no idea what was going on/what was going to happen the rest of the season. After sitting in the chair for a couple of minutes, I eventually had my ankle elevated and iced, and the trainer from Hempfield came over a couple minutes later. I almost could not even answer the questions she was asking me, mainly because I was in such pain and did not want to have to rethink what had just happened to me. After icing and resting my ankle for a while, my mom and I decided that it was time to go home, so since I could not walk to the car with her I had to get driven over in a little cart. That little drive there I just kept thinking, “Is this the end of my season? Will I be able to compete anymore? What is going to happen now?” The whole drive home I had felt like a failure and was just so mentally down. Once I arrived home, I could not even walk up the steps on my own, I needed help from my parents doing everything both Saturday and Sunday. These two days were the worst of the injury, as I could not walk at all and could do nothing for myself. I wasn’t even sure after these two days had passed if I was even going to be able to throw this season.

Once Monday arrived, I went to the doctor for an X-ray. I could slowly walk Monday, but it still was hard for me to get around. The X-ray showed that I had sprained my ankle, and would probably be out at least a week. I was thankful that it was nothing worse, but I was still upset that I injured my ankle and would be missing part of my senior season. Luckily, that week was only one small meet and I was not missing anything too crazy. That whole week, I did a lot of visualization and went to the trainer after school everyday to strengthen my ankle and my balance, since I lost a lot of balance after my injury. I did this for about a week and a half after my injury, and ended up being officially cleared a week and a half after my injury! The week I was cleared I slowly started to get into practice, with the majority of my throws that week being stands, with a couple of very easy fulls at the end. I was very excited to get the all clear, but I was very nervous to return back to competition, especially discus since that was where I injured myself. I had competitions the day after I was cleared and that Saturday, which was the Leonard Stephan invite held at Wilson High School. The meet Thursday rolled around, and I was very nervous to compete, especially since at this meet the weather was just like it was at Hempfield. I ended up competing from stand throws this meet since I tried to spin and was just not comfortable. I felt very down after this meet since I just wanted to be 100% back, but I had still scored points for my team and got the job done. Friday came, and this was my first day back at full throws, two weeks approximately after I had injured myself. My goal for Saturday (the next day) was to just feel comfortable competing again and getting into a consistent routine. The invite rolled around, and I can say overall it went really well. In the shot put, I threw really well in warmups, and even had two warmups in the 40 range. Luckily, I was able to carry this over to my competition throws, where I had produced a season best throw of 40-4, and a pretty decent series as well with two other throws in the 40 range. In the discus, I was still uncomfortable taking full throws, but I was still able to score for the team, which is what they needed. I had Penn Relays the Thursday after, and my goal was just to again feel comfortable competing. I ended up throwing just short of 40, and had a solid series as well. Even better, I got to see my future college coach, which made things a lot better as well. I also for Penn Relays was not even seeded to make finals, and I ended up being a finalist, which made the day perfect. The next big meet was two days later, and all I had wanted to do was produce a really good discus series and throw a season’s best. The whole week I worked hard to get back into throwing 100% and wanting to go big in the invite. The Schuylkill Valley Invite rolled around, and I felt ready to go. I ended up throwing 121 feet (which was a season’s best) and felt like I had just broken through a mental block, which was occuring because of the injury. I still have a couple meets left for the season, so I am hoping to improve on both my shot put and discus marks so that I can end my high school career on a good note.

Moral of the story, always persevere through any obstacles that life may throw at you. They will teach you lessons that you can use for the rest of your life. I went from not being able to walk three weeks ago to now being a Penn Relays finalist and starting to be back to myself pre injury. Even though the injury pushed back some of my progress, I was able to use it as a reset button and now can call it a comeback.