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Well, This is New

(Athletics, Class of 2014) Permanent link   All Posts
 Jessie Lukasik I’m astounded. Last Saturday, I fractured my ankle. For all the time I’ve spent being active and rough-and-tumble, I’ve never had any sort of significant injury. How bizarre…

I’ve always been pretty durable – I like to think of myself as “elastic.” You can hit me, stress me, stretch me, strain me, and I’ll take the blow and spring right back, which has always come in handy on the rugby field. In my first year playing, my high school coach actually stuck me playing Flyhalf (a kind of “captain” of the back line) for that exact reason; he said something along the lines of, “The Flyhalf gets laid out all the time…and you take a hit well.” Thanks for that, coach.

Guess that wasn’t the case this time. It was October 16th, our last regular season rugby game; we were playing away at Providence College, it was an insanely gorgeous fall afternoon, and A-side had just gotten a win that would send them into the upper rounds of the playoffs. Needless to say, as we, the bold ladies of B-side (“Sweet Side”) took the field, we were all pretty pumped up. It was going to be a fabulous game.

Unfortunately, I only got about five minutes worth of playtime. There was one of those moments where, in the frenzy to win the ball, there were just too many people in one place at one time. I lunged for a tackle. I fell. Several other people fell. And someone fell right onto my vulnerable little outstretched ankle. There was a nasty cracking noise, and before I knew it I was being carried off the field.

I was confused…I didn’t bounce back this time. I broke. That’s not how it’s supposed to work!

But in all seriousness, I was apparently hurt pretty badly. I went down to the clinic Monday morning to get checked out, and they told me I have an avulsion fracture. I won’t go into the science of it – frankly, that isn’t all that important to me. What I care about right now is just this: when can I walk again? When can I run again? How long until I’m back out on the athletic field?

The diagnosis wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear – crutches for a week, and then a boot for 4 to 6 weeks. Yikes. I don’t know exactly how I’m supposed to do indoor track starting November 1st. If I can’t exercise like a normal, healthy cadet for over a month, I’m going to go absolutely stir-crazy! And what’s more, inane little daily tasks – even just getting to class – are needlessly difficult when you’re doing them one-legged and with arms tied up in crutches. I wish I had done more pushups earlier in the semester...every muscle in my upper body is shot from trying to haul myself around!

Still, looking on the bright side, other than some sore arms, I’m not in much pain. Actually, I’m pretty lucky to have played rugby for two full seasons before getting hurt…it’s inevitable with that sport. They made fun of me a little bit in the clinic. The conversation went something like: Clinic: “So, tell me what happened.” Me: “Well, I was playing rugby, and…” Clinic: “Oh God, not another one!” It seems that being on crutches is just another rugby team-bonding experience.

But I’m being a bit too cynical. There has been quite a bit of good that has come out of this injury, in a way. I have come to realize, once again, what a first-rate place the Academy is, what amazing people live and work here. I can’t limp three yards down the hallway without someone offering to hold a door, carry my bags, carry me, or even just ask, “How are you feeling?” It’s a far stretch from my high school – where people with crutches would occasionally get knocked over without anyone blinking an eye. The supportiveness and compassion here is profound. I guess if I’m going to be injured, this is the place to be.

(And just for the record – any prospective rugby players please don’t write it off just because it’s rough. Yes, people get messed up from time to time, but that happens in any sport. For my part, busted-up though I may be, I can’t wait to get back out there. All the bumps and bruises are worth it for the intensity, team bonds, and fun – trust me.)

More about Jessie.