by Parker Bray
Ultimate has been one of the best things to happen to me.
It’s also been the singular worst thing for my physical well-being:
Chronic shoulder dislocations, a ruptured spleen that left me hospitalized for a week and unable to play for 5 months, a PCL tear and bone fracture that left me practically immobile for 6 weeks and out for 6 months.
The knee injury was particularly troubling for me, as it happened during the college season two weeks before 2016 National’s while I was playing for the Hustle.
My first thought wasn’t, “*expletive* my knee hurts” it was “*expletive* I’ve let my teammates down and failed as a captain”.
I have found that it is of the utmost importance to ensure the following to preserve your mental well-being. I hope this information will help someone else out there dealing with an injury
Find a support group | I wouldn’t have been able to cope with the anguish and battle that is recovery without the love and support of teammates, family, and friends. They provide endless encouragement and distraction.
Make yourself useful | You are more to your team than your physical abilities between the lines. Prioritize being the best teammate you can be. You have become a permanent sideline buddy who can offer personal feedback between points, can always talk on the mark and give up calls, and be the person who teammates value despite circumstances.
Embrace the struggle | There will be days when you’ll find yourself in dark mental spaces. Use the challenges and difficulties an injury presents to discover more about you. Find the good in the bad.
Have a moment of reflection once healed | For me, this involved going to the spot at Grady Stadium where I blew my knee out. My first time back on that field I laid down for several minutes. I wouldn’t call it meditating, but I certainly thanked the people who had helped me, appreciated my personal growth as a teammate and person, and gained closure from the experience. Don’t continue to live in fear.