At Berkeley High School (BHS), the wide variety of sports lead to a wide variety of injuries for athletes, all of which have implications for entire teams. One of the main support centers for injured athletes is athletic trainer Lauren Small. Small shared, “Since the [COVID-19] shutdown, there have been more injuries nationwide.”
Although only one full sports season has been completed, there have already been about 75 injuries across the school. The increase, Small believes, is the result of training time lost during the pandemic, and the sudden restart in regular movement while athletes haven’t adjusted to their physical growth. While injuries are in many ways a personal struggle, a player being out due to an injury has an effect on the entire team.
Losing players can lead to a shift in mentality for the team, which can alter the way a game turns out, even when playing against an opponent that’s not as strong. “Whether it’s our best or worst player, [when a player is out injured] we’re down a member of our family and in basketball, you can’t win games by yourself,” said Elijah Williams, a senior on the BHS boys basketball team.
For most BHS teams, athletes are playing together for the first time, and there is a varying amount of skill, making it difficult to adapt to player injuries. Nasos Eleftheriadis is the coach of the BHS girls junior varsity soccer team, and thus far in the season has had five injured players, a quarter of the whole team. “We have to think quickly and make adjustments, bringing players on the same level as those injured in order to cover the open spots,” Eleftheriadis said.
Injuries can make some athletes feel isolated since they are unable to play or practice with their teams, but depending on the athletes and their support system, reactions can differ. Both Emma Kittredge and Sirine El Karoui play for the frosh girls soccer team at BHS and have been out thus far due to knee problems and a broken fibula, respectively. “My mentality and view of the game really changed,” Kittredge said.
As much as injuries are disappointing, many athletes recognize that there is something to learn from them. One of the most common insights is learning to listen to your body, and understanding when it’s time to stop rather than pushing through the pain.
“I think I need to be more careful in the future,’’ El Karoui said. No matter what sport, injuries happen, but the difference between strong and weak teams is how they adjust to and deal with the obstacles.