photo courtesy of UW Athletic Department
According to psychologicalscience.org, it is true that although pain and hard work has a tendency to be ‘unpleasant’, it actually has the power to bring a group of people together. This is especially true in competitive sports.
After interviews with Brooklyn Chambers, a senior who had a career ending injury after she broke her ankle in 2015 playing for the cowgirl soccer team, Isaac Leppke, a redshirt freshman who tore his meniscus in 2017 playing for the cowboy football team and Ryan Pinson, the Director of Sports Medicine for University of Wyoming athletics, we are able to get a better idea of just how injury affects players relationships with their teammates.
When Isaac Leppke, a wide receiver, redshirt freshman, tore his meniscus in November of 2017 he thought it would be a career ending injury. After winning the Idaho Potato Bowl in December of 2017, Leppke underwent surgery to begin the healing process. After sitting down with him it was clear that his injury not only made the bond with his teammates stronger, but allowed for teammates who had also been injured in the past to help him with his recovery process. When asked ‘How has your injury affected your relationship with your teammates? Do they treat you differently?’, Leppke answered, “My injury has brought me closer to my teammates actually. They have shown me love and have cared for me on a deeper level than before my injury, and I find that pretty awesome.” Isaac seemed to have a deeper connection and appreciation for his teammates because of his injury, rather than allowing it to hold him back or get in the way of growing friendships with his teammates.
photo courtesy of Isaac Leppke Twitter (During 2017 UW football game)
When Brooklyn Chambers, now a second-year senior, broke and tore the ligaments in her ankle during a scrimmage in the middle of her 2015 soccer season, she was devastated. When asked how she was mentally affected by her injury she answered, “I felt as though I was separated from the team. I began to question my role on the team and wonder what my position was. I know that my teammates didn’t see me any differently, but I felt weaker in their eyes.” Brooklyn thought that her teammates saw her differently after her career ending injury but after talking to her more it was obvious that her injury actually brought her teammates closer. When Chambers was asked “How did your life/your relationship with your teammates change after your injury?” she humbly answered “Other than no longer being a part of the Wyoming soccer team, my life actually didn’t change much. Of course, I no longer went to workouts, but my teammates were nothing but supportive and loving. I didn’t look at my injury as something that ruined me, instead I saw it as a blessing and something that taught me lessons I didn’t know I needed to learn.” Chambers didn’t allow her injury to define who she was as a person, instead she allowed it to grow her. In fact, she later mentioned that she still has a close relationship with her teammates to this day.
photo courtesy of sweetwaternow.com (Chambers during a UW soccer game vs CO School of Mines)
As mentioned above, both Leppke and Chambers suffered from injuries in their sport, one career ending and one not. Regardless of how bad their individual injuries were, they were both shown nothing but love and support by their teammates. Ryan Pinson, the Director of Sports Medicine for the University of Wyoming’s’ athletic department, agrees that a strong teams dont allow injury to affect them. Pinson stated the following “I always make sure to tell athletes that their sport is a part of them and it is not what defines them as a human being.” Pinson really stressed that when one of his athletes gets injured, he makes sure to express to them that this is just a part of who they are and that regardless of whether the injury is career ending or not, they are going to recover. In addition, when Pinson was asked “How do you think that injury affects players’ relationships with their teammates?” he answered, “You may be in a different role when you are injured…as the injured player you take on the role of supporter and all of your teammates have to deal with it in different ways. Teammates can be great teammates by supporting each other. Even as an outsider I love to see great teams because they build on each other, they thrive, and they are competitive.”
Being a part of a team is something that not many people get the chance to experience, but after talking to Leppke, Chambers and Pinson, it is obvious that nothing can break the bond between them and their teammates, not even injury, in fact it actually has the power to bring them closer.