Throughout any given day, more than a few athletes can be seen walking around campus with ice packs on one or more parts of their bodies.
It seems the fall sports season have taken a toll on the members of each team, whether they are just about to end or start their season.
According to Head Athletic Trainer Kendra Potter, every season is different when it comes to injuries.
“Each sport is susceptible to various injuries depending upon the demand of their sport,” Potter said.
“For example, volleyball players are at a risk for overuse shoulder injuries due to the overhead sport demand.”
Along with injuries that might be specific to certain sports, the NCAA has become more proactive when it comes to head injuries as well.
“Every student athlete is require to take a baseline test through a computerized program called ImPact” Potter said. “Once a student athlete has been diagnosed with a concussion, he or she will sit out the recommended number of days and take the ImPact test. The student athlete’s test scores must be comparable to their baseline test.”
Each team has dealt with injuries and the absences they’ve caused in practices and games throughout the fall, but the Cavalier football team’s Defensive Coordinator Dino Kaklis believes that pain and injuries are often confused.
“This is a collision sport; there’s violence,” Kaklis said. “You’re going to have things that are going to hurt you once you start practicing and your body’s not going to feel right until the end of the season. You have to manage those injuries through treatment; you have to manage what I call preventative maintenance.”
He said he thinks people are more aware of injuries now, with cases popping up countrywide.
“There’s also better care of injuries in regards to rehab and allowing athletes to get back to competition sooner,” he said.
“But then, on the flip side, I think things are sometimes blown out of proportion because everybody’s so worried about lawsuits and what’s going to happen down the road. You know what signed up for when you play. You could easily get hurt walking off the curb on campus.”
Freshman wide receiver Cedrick Watkins suffered an ankle injury, in the second quarter of the Cavalier’s game against Concord University Nov. 1, but hopes to be back on the field in time for the last game of the season.
“I was trying to slide to make a catch and my leg got caught. I thought I broke my leg,” he said. “When I fell on my leg, I didn’t want to look down. I didn’t think it was my ankle until they were trying to take my shoe off, then my ankle was really swollen.”
Watkins said he was also diagnosed with a concussion earlier on in the season, too.
Kaklis has strong opinions on concussions and thinks the evolution of helmets and the way athletes wear them has something to do with head injuries.
“Helmets have come a long way,” he said. “In the past 15 years they’ve come a long way. Here’s the other thing that I think contributes to it: Kids are not properly wearing them. Your helmet is not supposed to fit nice. If your helmet’s comfortable, it probably don’t fit right. Early on, it’s got to be uncomfortable, until your head gets used to wearing it. You should check your helmet every day before you go out to practice or before you go to a game. You should have it checked all the time. That’s part of being responsible.”
Another factor that can often be contributed to the increase of concussions, according to Kaklis, is the decline of tackling and forgetting the basics.
“If you look at the course of the game, in the last decade, at all levels tackling has gone down the tubes and it’s gotten worse because you’re not allowed to hit in practice, can’t do this, can’t do that,” he said. “The only way to get better at tackling is by doing, and along the way people forgot the basics of tackling.”
The Cavaliers will compete in the last game of the season at Carl Smith Stadium on Saturday against Fairmont State University at 1 p.m.