Injuries shake up athletes’ careers

Some athletes enter college with high hopes of pursuing a professional career. But whatever the sport, from football to tennis, those big money dreams can sometimes be derailed by injury.

Darryl Evans, 21, a baseball player for Florida A&M University, said injuries are all a part of the game. Evans has been injured in the past but said it comes with the territory.

“In the conference tournament last year I [went] for a ball and landed on my arm wrong,” said Evans, a sophomore education student from Gary, Ind. “It was sore for a while. It was the last game of the tournament and it was the last inning. I still wanted to play. I love to win and I wanted to win that tournament. It hurt to come out of the game.”

Sports injuries have proven to be a common problem among athletes, whether for baseball players like Evans, or track runners like Trevor Owens.

Owens, 20, a junior English student who received a track scholarship to the university, said injuries are very frequent in track. He said individuals looking to join FAMU’s track team could expect quite a workout along with a few grievances.

“Track is not for the faint of heart,” said Owens, who was voted the fastest runner in a 2A state tournament in 2006. “While running track, I was injured numerous times. I had a shin splint from running on my toes. The shinbones cracked a little bit. It sounds like a small injury, but it hurt like hell.”

Owens, a specialist in the 400 meters, 800 meters and the 4×4 and 4×8 relays, sprained his hamstring while running in the 400.

“I thank the Lord that I didn’t pull it because that would have been ten times worse,” he said. “I think track is a painful sport because it involves almost every muscle in the body.It’s just continual movement. Track may just be the hardest sport of all.”Not quite.

An annual survey of football injury research, prepared by the American Football Coaches Association, found that football players are far more likely to suffer injuries than athletes in other sports. As a result, they are less likely to reach the professional ranks.

Travis Norton, a Tallahassee native who plays cornerback for the University of Louisville Cardinals football team, is trying to beat the odds.

Norton, 22, a graduating senior, has suffered two injuries while in college. Last year he partially tore his anterior cruciate ligament and tore his labrum, a rim of soft tissue in the shoulder. Norton underwent surgery then spent three months recovering.

“The doctor went in and put four pins into my bone,” said Norton, who despite the setbacks hopes to play professionally after college.  “I can still reach the NFL because for one, I’m the prototype. I’m six-foot-two, 202 pounds and I still get letters from NFL teams,” he said.

“I believe what God has for me is for me [therefore] I’m not going to give up.”
Marrita Royster-Crockett can concur. A broadcast journalism student, Royster-Crockett is a volleyball player who played overseas in Switzerland. However, she had to return after an injury.

“I suffered from compartment syndrome which is when your muscles get too big for the tissue around it,” said Royster-Crockett, 21, a Tallahassee native. “If it’s not released it can cause nerve damage.”

Royster-Crockett said she was lucky to discover the injury early so it didn’t too much damage. She said the coach only would play her if there was a chance of winning. Other than that, she sat out.

However, Royster-Crockett said she will return to the volleyball courts this summer after her injury has healed.

According to, a Web site centered on fitness and training, some ways to avoid injuries are to start every run with a few minutes of walking. The site also recommends stretching as an important way to eliminate or minimize injuries. Athletes need to carefully select the shoe they wear and take breaks through a workout

Norton is of the same opinion. He said that by working out, injuries could be minimized. Norton had the chance to exercise his skills for four years on his high school varsity football team as running back. Norton said he will go to whichever NFL team that will pay him the most. He also said that he anticipates injuries in his future career.

“All injuries can affect an athlete,” Norton said. “It just depends on how severe they are and what time an athlete may get them, like what point in the season and what point in the year. Different injuries can affect different positions.”

While the thought of not being able to play along with the rest of the team is a little frightening for some athletes, Norton said athletes shouldn’t just commit to sports.

“I don’t think any athlete should put their sole focus on sports,” he said. “Athletes should create different avenues for themselves. Injuries happen. Whatever sport a college athlete chooses to participate in should not be their life. Instead it should be a part of their life. “Evans agrees. He said that injuries are common and that athletes shouldn’t be discouraged if they don’t make it in the professional world.

He said there is more to life than just sports.

“If baseball doesn’t work out then I’m still going to get my degree,” Evans said. “If an athlete gets injured and misses the opportunity to go pro, they should keep their head up. themselves. It’s not the end of the world.”