Hurt at The Hill: Sports injuries sideline Center Hill athletes

Jacob Brewer, Staff Writer

Athletes aren’t the only ones who are affected by injuries.

“If one key player gets hurt, it’s just something you have to adapt to and the next guy just has to step up,” said Newton Mealer, head boys basketball coach at Center Hill High School. “Obviously, injuries can hurt the team. Last season, our starting center went down with a knee injury and he missed 12 games because of that. It’s all about adapting to a situation like that.”

Mealer said he worries about players getting injured, but perhaps he worries more than coaches of other sports.

“I think basketball is a little different because there are so few players on a team,” he said.

Certain injuries occur more often than others in basketball.

“Most of the time it’s knees and ankles that are most common in basketball,” he said. “With those kinds of injuries, it takes 2-3 weeks minimum to heal.”

Head football coach Alan Peacock said he is constantly concerned about injuries.

“It’s always on your mind but you can’t dwell on it,” he said.

With a sport as rough as football, injuries are common.

“I broke my thumb in the Grenada game,” running back Justin Buckingham said.

Anthony Day is recovering from a more severe injury that occurred in Horn Lake on Sept. 11 during a junior varsity football game.

“I got a concussion playing football,” he said. “Someone’s helmet struck me right on my head.”

Day, a right defensive end for the Mustangs, was initially treated in the emergency room at Methodist Hospital in Olive Branch and, after additional testing, has decided to quit football.

“I’m a little sad,” he said. “I miss being part of the team.”

Phil Weivoda of Campbell Clinic is the school’s athletic trainer. Football injuries he has seen so far this season include two torn ACLs, a torn shoulder labrum, jersey finger – a torn finger tendon, ankle fractures and dislocations.

“We primarily do prevention, evaluation and treatment of athletic injuries,” he said. “We are trained in emergency management. It’s required in DeSoto County to have an ATC at every single football game and every home event.”

On a typical afternoon in the training room, Weivoda might help a soccer player with a hamstring or a baseball player recovering from surgery. One athlete he is currently working with is Trinity Baynham, the goalkeeper for the girls soccer team.

“I’ve had injuries all four years of high school,” Baynham said. “My most recent one is a bone bruise on my ankle that required me to wear a boot for four weeks.”

Not being able to practice before the season opens “is the absolute worst,” Baynham said. “Never knowing if you’re coming back 100 percent and your spot is never fully secure, it can be real tedious.”

With Weivoda’s help, Baynham said she should be back in game shape by the pre-season opener on Oct. 27, when the Lady Mustangs visit Oxford.

Injury prevention is part of Weivoda’s specialty and it’s also important to coaches.

“We’re always going to do things to prevent injuries,” Peacock said. “Weights are something we do to prevent injuries. We focus on the knees, neck, muscles, and shoulders.”

Mealer also has specific conditioning and training to help prevent injuries in his basketball players.

“We try to keep our guys in the best shape possible during the preseason, such as what they eat and drink,” he said. “We just try to keep our players in the best shape before the season starts. The three key components are eating, sleeping and conditioning.”

When athletes are injured, their focus is on recovery and getting back in the game.

“I got injured a long time ago but pulled a tendon recently,” said Kennedi Evans, a member of the Center Hill Dance Team. “I hurt myself by doing an aerial and my weight went all on my left foot and pulled a tendon in my foot.”

While she’s on the sidelines for four weeks with physical therapy, “It feels bad to be sitting out,” Evans said. “We are working on pom right now, so sitting out is not fun.”

There is an upside to being hurt.

“It feels bad in a way,” Buckingham said. “But it also feels good because you still want your team to succeed without you.”