Athletes spend years of hard work running the perfect routes, hitting homeruns and nailing the best strike zone. Athletes strive for victory, but being an athlete often brings the unexpected.
The unexpected happened when a defender from an opposing team caused Brandon Gates’ MCL to sprain, when Mason Faulkner felt a riveting pain in his elbow leading to a bone spur and when Taylor Thompson blew out his knee. These athletes have taken their injuries and turned them into hurdles to jump in pursuit of their sporting dreams.
Gates was injured as an opposing team defender tackled him, spraining both his MCL and PCL. Gates initially thought the injury would end his football career, but he will be able to return for the upcoming games.
“I had a large support group praying for me and I believe that helped a ton,” Gates said. “I would recommend to other athletes who get hurt, to trust that God has a plan and everything will fall in place. Pray and do not get discouraged with your current circumstances.”
Faulkner, pitcher for the Harding baseball team, was injured this past season. As he threw the ball he felt a pain increase throughout the inning. As athletic trainers were called onto the field, and Faulkner made a trip to the doctor, doctors were able to find a bone spur (a projection that develops along the edge of a bone) in his elbow. Through surgery and gradual rehabilitation, Faulkner will be able to stand and pitch on the mound one last time in the spring.
“One thing I learned is you can’t take anything for granted,” Faulkner said. “You never know when it will be your last pitch.”
Faulkner admits that at times he feels weak, but he understands it is part of the process. His coaches and the athletic trainers have helped push him to come back into the game with resilience and stride.
The season ahead is what motivates him to recover and bounce back into full swing. Faulkner has plans for the team to succeed this year and compete for a conference championship with him on the mound. It has been a long recovery, but Faulkner said he is ready for a comeback.
Thompson is entering into the beginning stages of a six-month recovery after his knee buckled as he ran to receive a pass tearing his ACL, MCL, PCL, meniscus and fracturing the condyle of his femur. Although it was unexpected injury, his positive attitude, faith and community are what keep him in bright spirits.
Thompson will undergo surgery on Oct. 16 and will then follow up with extensive physical therapy. With positivity and encouragement, Thompson is hopeful to come back next season as tough as ever and play to the best of his ability.
“I want to trust that faith will block out any negative emotions I may feel,” Thompson said. “I want to continue to work hard and use my platform to reach others and show Christ the best way that I can. There is a lot to be thankful for.”