SPRINGFIELD TWP. When injury strikes, high school athletes have decisions to make.
Depending on the nature and severity of the injury, they and their family have to sit down and decide on treatment and surgery options, but beyond that, there’s the question of how to approach the coming season.
If the injury is severe enough, it can mean missing an entire year. When that’s the case, the athlete can either stay with the team, attend practices and games and be involved as possible, or he or she can decide that it’s too difficult to be around the game without being able to play.
Springfield senior Zach Ickes had that choice to make his sophomore year. Ickes broke his wrist from a bad fall during basketball season and that meant he wasn’t able to play baseball in the spring.
"My sophomore year, I missed the whole season of baseball because I ended up breaking my wrist really bad and had to have surgery," Ickes said. "Our baseball coach knew I wasn’t going to make the season, so he approached and asked me if I want to be on the team."
When coach Randy Jarvis talked to Ickes, the then-sophomore told him that he still wanted to be a part of the team. He attended every practice and game just as he would have if he were able to be on the field.
While he would rather have been able to throw, catch and hit, he found small ways to contribute.
"It was tough, playing sports since I was five years old, not being able to play," Ickes said. "If it was my senior year, it would have been different and a lot harder. When coach needed something from the storage room, I’d run and get it and do whatever I could to help."
When it comes to athletes making the decision to stay with their team or not be around as much when injured, Ickes believes it has a lot to do with wanting to support their friends and teammates they’ve known for years.
While injured and missing his sophomore season of baseball, Ickes did six weeks of rehab to get the wrist back to full strength. Because it isn’t his throwing hand, rehabbing was a bit different, but at times he still feels a small amount of discomfort at times, but was happy to be able to return to action for all of his sports once he was healthy.
"Even with it not being my throwing hand, catching the ball still hurts," Ickes said. "The injury happened first round of the playoffs against Howland when I up for the ball and landed on it wrong."
Looking back on the process, Ickes is glad he decided to remain a part of the team rather than step away until he was healthy enough to play again. The circumstances are different for each athlete and at times, rehab can force them to miss a game or practice, but staying connected to the sport they enjoy is something that’s difficult to give up, even if they can’t put their uniform on and contribute hits, runs, points, yards or serves.
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