Coach’s Corner: Dealing with injury — yours and others’
People get hurt. It’s a fact of life.
If you or your friends and family have never experienced injury, then consider yourself extremely fortunate. You’re an anomaly. For those of us who have in fact suffered an injury or had to watch as it happened to a friend, we know that it’s an incredibly tough ordeal to go through. There’s the initial pain itself if the incident occurred to you. There’s fear, anxiety, worry, concern, frustration, anger and a feeling of helplessness if it’s a colleague or comrade. There’s a lot that goes on inside the heads of any and all who have the bad fortune to be involved in those moments. It’s not easy; in fact, it’s unbelievably stressful on many levels.
Again, injury is something that is basically unavoidable at least a few times throughout life. It can be something as simple as a bruise from stubbing your toe or infinitely more complex issues.
In our outdoorsy and incredibly active community, it seems that the likelihood of injury is exacerbated and elevated. The majority of us like to be physically engaged in some activity or another, typically increasing the chance of risk. While this is a natural aspect of life, we as Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club coaches make our No. 1 priority to minimize the risk and keep all of our athletes healthy and safe.
It’s called “calculated risk.” We know there’s a chance of something going wrong. We weigh all the factors and make judgment calls as we see fit. That doesn’t always work. We’ve all seen the videos on TV or Internet where a young child unexpectedly swings a toy baseball bat into Dad’s crotch. It wasn’t the child’s intention, and Dad didn’t plan for that to happen. We can’t control everything.
Two weekends ago, we had an injury occur to an athlete during training. It was nothing terribly serious, and the athlete is in great spirits, counting the days until they can return to snow to continue progressing with their passion of snowboarding. To those who saw, it looked worse than it was. There was uncertainty as to the extent of the injury. At the time of the incident, emotions were high. Many of the feelings listed above were coursing through athletes, coaches and medical staff.
Personally, it was a very trying experience for my team and myself. The injured athlete was a friend, a great asset to the team as a whole. I know the other coaches who were around during that scary moment had a moment of panic.
Reflecting on the situation a few days later, I’m very proud of how the whole event eventually played out. Everyone worked as a team to make sure the situation was handled properly. I’m proud of how the coaches remained calm and did their best to help the athlete. I’m also proud of the teammates in their concern and assistance and willingness to do their best to help out.
All through the evening, I was receiving texts and photos with updates, even carrying on a conversation with the injured athlete, keeping things as positive and lighthearted as possible. The next morning, two particular athletes appeared so exhausted that I wondered if they had even been to bed yet. While they had, they still did their best to get up at the drop of a dime to help their friend in need with anything from repositioning for comfort to making sure that the ice cream was in fact cold. We do our best to make sure our friends are taken care of no matter how asinine some requests might be.
What’s more, after going through the entire ordeal with their friend, they were still dedicated to their own plans and goals. While the incident was trying, they stayed true to being the absolute definition of an outstanding AVSC member.
That weekend proved that we maintain and hold true to the ideals of AVSC: teamwork, commitment and integrity. Hard times can bring out the best in a person, and that was surely the case in this situation.
Josh Ganz is a snowboarding coach for the Aspen Ski and Snowboard Club. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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