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The Challenges Injured Student-Athletes Face At SAU

Photo courtesy of Ryan Russo.

When looking around campus and in classes, you may notice fellow injured students with crutches, braces, and boots. According to the NCAA, approximately 1.3 million injuries occur annually among student-athletes nationwide. Numerous student-athletes at St. Ambrose have experienced injuries related to their sport, requiring them to navigate the challenges associated with being injured.

SAU sophomore cheerleader Savannah Schumacher has experienced concussions that affect her ability to study and focus. A mild traumatic brain injury can cause headaches, fogginess, and fatigue which can limit a person’s ability to concentrate.

Schumacher says she faced academic challenges during her most recent concussion in October. “I had three exams the week that I got a concussion so that affected my studying since my symptoms were fogginess and feeling tired,” she explains.

“When I was studying, I would be able to focus for 10 or 15 minutes, and then my brain would get tired and I would have to take a two-hour nap. It was frustrating because usually I study for 45-minute chunks at a time.”

Fortunately, she was granted additional time for her exams thanks to the Accessibility Resouce Center. She says she is satisfied with how she performed on all three of the exams she had that week.

Injuries can also affect someone’s physical ability to continue in the sport they love.

During his senior year of high school, Dayton Davis, SAU sophomore and former volleyball player suffered an ankle sprain during a game. This injury, which has been linked to potentially causing knee problems, resulted in Davis experiencing discomfort in his knee. His knee issues continued to be an ongoing challenge, necessitating two surgeries. Getting around campus became a challenge, but a handicap pass proved significant in facilitating his mobility. “I hadn’t received my handicap pass yet and nobody ever taught me how to use crutches so I struggled with that. I eventually got a handicap pass which made getting around campus way easier with my car.”

Due to his persistent knee issues, Davis left volleyball as he was unable to play in both the last season and the current season. “It was hard seeing my teammates get the chance to play the sport I have been waiting to play for quite some time,” he says, “I decided the commitment I was putting towards the team wasn’t worth it anymore as the chances of me returning were so slim. On top of that, there were short and long-term injury risks that I didn’t want to take.”

Davis has made significant strides in addressing his knee concerns on his own, “I’m working on starting to jump again and then will start working on faster speeds along with changing in direction.”

Sarah Oliver, counselor for SAU, highlights the emotional tolls associated with leaving a defining aspect of one’s life. “Being an athlete is an important part of a student’s identity, even before they get to college. When a student has to give this up, it can be a very difficult adjustment. I liken it to a grieving process. Students have to consider that a part of their life they have always participated in will no longer be there. Some are relieved but it is still a major adjustment.”

For more information on the counseling center in the Rogalski Center visit sau.edu/counseling.

For more information on the Accessibility Resource Center, visit sau.edu/accessibilityresourcecenter.

Ryan Russo is a staff writer for The Buzz.