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The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

Finding motivation: the road to recovery

After his recovery Seba Spinelli runs the ball into the offensive end. Seba Spinelli tore his ACL while playing soccer in May 2022.

The Washington Post reported that, from 2015 to 2019, there were over 5.2 million injuries among high school athletes.

Injuries for athletes are common, whether it be a sprain that sends an athlete to the sidelines for a few days or a long-term injury that ends an athlete’s season. Regardless of the injury, there are certain physical and mental challenges that are part of the recovery process.

Senior and boys varsity soccer player Seba Spinelli tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) while playing soccer in May 2022. Soon after, Spinelli received surgery for his injury and began his journey back to playing.

“When I heard the news, I was sad because I knew that the injury was significant and I was going to be out for a long time. But I knew that if I focused on my recovery, I would be back to the player I was before [the injury] or even better,” Spinelli said.

This past March, Spinelli could finally ease back into training and pick up where he left off. Throughout his recovery, Spinelli was motivated by his ultimate goal: returning to his sport at his pre-injury level, if not higher.

Finding motivation in the outcome of the recovery process applies to many other comeback stories. Junior and runner Dasha LeFaivre sustained a stress injury on her ankle fibula over the summer and kept the end goal in mind throughout her journey.

“I love running. It’s something that I’ve always loved,” LeFaivre said. “When I had to take a month off running and I was just cross-training, I kept thinking about what it would feel like when I came back and when I could do everything I wanted to do again.”

Jacqueline Mahon, a sophomore who tore her ACL in April of 2022, advised injured athletes to think about their objective as they work to return to their sport.

“Always be thinking of the good outcome and that you will be able to be back on the field again,” Mahon said. “It’s definitely hard, but you have to think that one day you will be able to play again.”

Regardless of the specific injury, these athletes used their motivation to drive them forward in their recovery process, whether biking, strength training, stretching or physical therapy.

“Focusing on your recovery and your rehab is definitely one of the most important things because, to be able to be the same person you were before [the injury], you have to put in the work,” Spinelli said.

After sustaining a knee injury playing soccer this past fall, freshman Aki Moriguchi said he had to prevent reinjury once he returned to his sport.

“Now, I tend to think more about my body. I try to stretch more often after practice so that I don’t get long-term injuries [and] so that I don’t have to watch from the sidelines again,” Moriguchi said.

The importance of physical recovery cannot be understated, yet there is also a serious mental element of returning from an injury. Senior Mira Shrayer tore her ACL last December while skiing, ending her squash and tennis seasons that year. After a long recovery process, Shrayer hopes to play in both of her upcoming seasons. With her experiences in mind, Shrayer said mentality plays a huge role in returning to a sport.

“Try to stay positive because it’s [recovery] definitely a struggle,” Shrayer said. “If you’re going to wake up every day and be negative, it’s not going to do anything for you.”

After receiving surgery on his ACL, Spinelli said that overcoming the immense pain in the weeks that followed was one of the most significant obstacles in his recovery process. Positivity was also a necessary element of Spinelli’s recovery process.

“Always think positively and don’t think about the negatives,” Spinelli said. “Never think, ‘Oh, I hope this never happens again’ or [about the] fear of re-injury, just think positively.”

Despite the significant physical and mental impacts of injuries, Moriguchi said that they often allow athletes to consider their athletic careers and grow as an individual.

“It [the injury] gave me time to reflect on how I’ve been playing and what I should do better for the next game,” Moriguchi said. “If you get injured, you should keep your head up and go watch your team and support them because they’re fighting for you as well.”

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