Sidelined: A New Perspective on Sports Injuries


Photo by Sean Whitson

Sophomore Ben Smith (left) comforts Dallas Trigg (right) after Trigg fractured his tibia and fibula.

The fresh September air was buzzing with anticipation as the ADM Tigers warmed up on the field. The home bleachers cast enormous shadows in the warm orange sunlight. The speakers were blaring “Thunderstruck,” adding more adrenaline to the moment. As the fans slowly trickled in, the anticipation was rising higher and higher.

The ADM Tigers were set to play their rivals, the Winterset Huskies, in an ultimate showdown of strength and toughness. ADM had a winning streak against them for three years and were determined to keep it that way. The Tigers, after exiting the field, re-entered with the American and Iowan flag, and as dramatic music blared across the field, they kneeled in a circle and prayed. Once finished with the prayer, the team was ready to play, with sweat already dripping off the brows of the athletes. The crowd roared as Winterset set to kick off. The hollow sound of a football being kicked sounded as the kicker made contact, and the game officially started.

Dallas Trigg, 17, and a senior at ADM, was one of the players on the field for the kickoff. Like most of the team, his adrenaline was pumping with the excitement of starting a new game. “[I felt] hyped up, you know?… I had to get into that mindset to get into it” Trigg said in an interview. Those emotions would be cut short in the first play of the game.

Once the ball was kicked to the Tigers, the Huskies came sprinting down the field, looking to block any attempt of scoring. A player crashed into Trigg. He fell onto the ground, leg on fire. When the whistle was blown and the offense entered the field and the special teams exited, he was still laying there. He tried to get up and walk on his leg but quickly failed. He was helped off of the field by two people present on the sidelines, and he spent the next few drives in excruciating pain before he was taken to the hospital. He got an x-ray, then received some shocking news: he fractured his right tibia and fibula, the two bones of the lower leg. His football season, the last one in his high school career, was now finished.

Trigg was not the only athlete this year to have their season cut short.

Aiden Flora, 15, is an ADM freshman and was playing football against Norwalk in the third game in the season. He was the starting quarterback for the freshman team. The game had virtually just begun, with only one or two drives coming before. Like Trigg, his adrenaline was rushing. “I was just really excited to play…. Our team was doing really good [sic], and I was excited to get going again and hoping to score.” He took the field hoping to score a touchdown for the Tigers. 

He called a passing play, got into position, and the center hiked the ball. The receivers rushed to get open, but to no avail. When he saw there was nobody open, Flora decided to scramble to squeeze a few yards in, but he was quickly tackled by a Norwalk player. He thrust his arm out to stabilize himself, but right when his arm was placed, the opposing team’s player came barreling into his arm. His arm bent in the opposite direction, fracturing his humerus and causing his rotator cuff to tear away from the humerus. The humerus is the largest bone in the upper arm, and the rotator cuff is composed of four muscles that attach to the humerus with tendons, which snapped under the pressure (Dr. Laura Whitson). Immediately he felt incredible pain. “Yeah, it was rough,” Flora said.

Much of the pain for Flora came after the fact. He had to go into surgery, where they put four pins to reconnect the rotator cuff to the humerus. After that surgery, one of the pins that he had in his arm slipped, causing him to go into surgery again. This has caused him to miss much of the school year. “It’s been rough trying to catch up after surgery… getting in the freshman high school [is hard enough],” he said. Although it has been hard for him to catch up, the recent integration of online school has made it easier for him to stay connected with his classes. Another part of the injury that has been hard for him is not being able to play with friends and socialize. 

Both Trigg and Flora are not alone. A study conducted by Colorado researchers stated that per year, there are over 500,000 football injuries of some sort nationwide, and 10 percent of those require surgery. Both Trigg and Flora’s injuries required surgery, which is much more rare. 

One of the hardest parts of an injury is moving forward, which involves both the people that actually sustained the injury and the people surrounding them. Both Trigg and Flora have demonstrated immense mental strength going through their injuries. Being injured on the field is a painful reminder of the things that are taken for granted. Flora said, “I definitely have taken it for granted… like, my life has definitely changed. I love the sport of football and I love having sports in my life.” Now, something that he loves and has devoted so much time and devotion to has gone. The teams also need to adapt and change when a player is taken out of the season. In an interview, Head Coach Garrison Carter said, “Well, I think we try to work really hard to make sure that the next guy up is getting plenty of reps and practice, and we work hard to make sure they are prepared.” 

Remarkably, both of them bring up similar points and thoughts that get them through this tough time. Both are filtering everything through a positive lens in order to make the best of the situation. “They told me in the hospital that I was done with sports,” Trigg said, “I can maybe get cleared [to play]. But I realize that everything happens for a reason and that God has a plan.” Similarly, Flora said, “It made me mentally tougher and… I have to push through this. It’s me versus this injury, and the only way it will get better is if I do my job to rest and to do the right thing… and I’ll come back next year better than ever.” Later on, he also mentioned that God has a plan for this thing that happened to him.

In the future, Trigg hopes to continue to participate in wrestling, even if he can’t actually get on the mat. He has already talked to the wrestling coaches to get an idea of what he can do. Flora can finally come back to school on Thursday, October 1st, where, hopefully, he can begin a normal freshman year.



Works Cited:

Mills, David. “High School Football: What Are the Chances of Injury?” Healthline, Healthline Media, 4 Oct. 2016, compares with an average,of those injuries require surgery. Accessed Sept 30, 2020.