The year in PCC athletics has been riddled with injury, as par for the course as loudmouthed fans and hackneyed mascots in sports.When asked, coaches will roll out a litany of injuries: hamstring pulls, sprained shoulders, fractured ankles, broken feet. It’s a list that, if allowed to go on, would be enough to make even the most experienced doctor a little queasy.
For the Lancer baseball team, potential was reduced with each additional injury. Four players were unable to play because of injuries sustained on the field and two others were severely hampered by their injuries, said Coach Evan O’Meara.
“When that many players have been taken out, the overwhelming thought is, ‘Man, we’re snakebitten.’ If one guy’s injured, the players might start rallying around him, but when you start losing that many guys, the team might start to feel skittish,” he said.
O’Meara, like his fellow coaches, said that an injury-related absence can often make or break a team.
“It can completely kill a team’s unity and spirit, or it can rally a team to try and push past it and play well for that hurt individual,” he said.
Coach Elaine Martinez said the Lancer softball team got its minor injuries out of the way early in the season.
“You get the usual pulled groins, hamstrings, quads earlier because the players aren’t ready or conditioned yet, but they go all out,” she explained.
But with the softball team’s small roster, any injury could be a strain on the team.
“For the last two years, we’ve had a low number of girls participating on the team, so losing one player was a big blow. Last year we had 10, so if somebody got hurt, we went down to nine. You can’t drop below that, because you can’t play with less than nine. So, for these last two years, any injury was felt,” Martinez said.
Women’s basketball had three players injured this season, including Florence Wilson, who had a meniscus tear in her knee.
“She sustained the tear before the season, but she played with it throughout the season. The treatment involved an operation, but it wasn’t done during the season, so it went untreated,” said Coach Joe Peron.
“We started out with probably 11 players and those were major injuries, so it knocked us down to eight players in practice. Our injured athletes do attend practice, on the sidelines, at least until they’ve been cleared by the trainer or the doctors to come back out again,” he said.
Forward Easter Faafiti, an all-state player, injured her right foot in the playoffs, but was able to play through it for five minutes.
In four of those, she scored two points to help advance the team to the Southern California Regional Playoffs.
PCC’s athletic trainers include Rudy Aguilar, who provides evaluation, treatment and rehabilitation at the athletic training center.
“A regular day starts with some type of modality – ice or heat, followed by an ultrasound or electrical stimulation. When the student-athlete is done we move over to a rehabilitation area where I put the athlete through five to six stations of exercises for their injury,” said Aguilar.
Though Aguilar works hand-in-hand with the coaches to determine injured players’ capabilities, the final word on the player’s on-court or on-field status rests with him and the other athletic trainers.
O’Meara called the relationship that exists between coaches and trainers an inseparable one.
“I need them to paste the kids back together. The trainer’s decision is absolutely final. They get feedback from me after a limited return to the field – an assessment. But essentially, returning to the field is up to the player and the trainer,” he said.
The coaches and Aguilar agreed that there’s an emotional component to returning to the field or court after an injury, especially to the spot where the injury occurred.
“I think it’s always in the back of their mind,” said Martinez. “If they acquired an injury somewhere and they’re returning, of course the incident’s going to be in the back of their head. But it’s kind of like the strongest survive, so if they’re really a softball player, they’ll come back out, they’ll go for it and work through it. The best ones usually do.
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