By Justin Blanks
Millions of people have visible scars on their body that we may never know the story behind. A scar is a permanent patch of skin that grows over a wound that forms when your body heals itself after a cut, scrape, burn or sore. Scars can fade over time but never go away completely. Because McKendree is a university where the majority of the students play sports, scars are very easy to find.
Caitlyn Lowry is a sophomore softball player here at McKendree and has a large, visible scar on her knee. She said, “How I got this scar is from sliding into bases and diving numerous times. It went away for one season but it always comes back because every game I slide/dive that skin always reopens.” Caitlyn is the starting shortstop for the softball team; therefore, she dives and slides all the time.
Caitlyn was asked if there was any instance that possibly made the scar so prominent. She replied, “There was a play when we were playing the University of Missouri-St. Louis, a girl hit the ball up the middle and I dived to stop the ball. When I got up to throw the ball, I didn’t feel anything at that time but when I got back to the dugout my teammate told me my whole pant leg was bloody. I lifted my pant leg up and the scrape was about 2 layers of skin deep and wouldn’t stop bleeding.”
Scars never go away unless a person gets surgery or gets a cream to help it fade. Caitlyn stated, “I will always remember how I got this scar, but I’m proud of it because I love the sport and all the injuries that go along with it. It’s all part of the love of the game.”
Another McKendree softball athlete, centerfielder/third-baseman Abbie Bailey, has a permanent scar on her elbow from a surgery. “Last year I was up to bat and I got hit by a pitch right in the wrist in the game against Truman State University. I ended up breaking my wrist, having to be out the whole season and getting surgery.” Abbie had to deal with the upset of being out her whole freshman season just because of an injury. This scar reminds her of the pain and the passion she has for her sport. It also helps her remember to wear a guard on her arm so she does not have to get hurt like this again. Now that she has gone through physical therapy and learning how to throw again, she is the starting centerfielder for McKendree’s softball team.
Up next is Gianni Otto one of McKendree’s basketball players. In the season of 2016-17, Gianni tore his ACL and had to have a major surgery. He now has a huge scar on his knee from that injury. He said, “I was playing in one of the first games of the season, I was going up for a tough shot and twisted my knee the wrong way. I heard a pop and instantly knew something was wrong. I got an MRI the next day and found of my ACL was completely torn. I was out of the whole season.”
Basketball is a sport where knee injuries are common. Gianni explains, “This scar has reminded me of adversity and to come back this season of 2017-18 ready to compete. There were difficulties behind this scar from not being a 100 percent when I thought I would be and having to do more physical therapy when I thought I was done. It sends a message that I need to fight and work as hard as I can to be back to where I was.”
One of McKendree’s defensive football players, Marquis Cherry, has a scar on his thumb. His position is nose guard on defense so he constantly has his hands on the ground or is pushing them against his opponent. Marquis describes how he got the scar, “I was getting ready to block a player and as soon as I could bring my hand off the ground, a lineman stepped right on my thumb. It was the worst feeling I’ve felt. I got taken out of the game, took my glove off and had a huge cleat indention in my thumb. Come to find out, I broke it.”
Football is a contact sport and a lot of injuries can happen if a player does not move correctly. In Marquis’ case, a split second would have caused him from not having a lot of pain. He elaborates, “Now when I look at my hand, I see a memory, not pain. It helps me to make sure my hand is off the ground in time.”
Caitlyn, Abbie, Gianni, and Marquis all have scars. Their stories are all different, but no one knows the stories behind them. All of these athletes have a passion for the sport they play. These scars have taught them that this sport will always be a part of them in some way because of the physical mark on their bodies.
Athletes are susceptible to injuries, especially the in the sports these athletes play. Different emotions are usually placed behind the story of the scar, whether it is how that person felt in that moment of when it happened or even an emotion to drive the player to be better. Scars, like a tattoo, are permanent; however, with scars, we did not choose where or how we got them. People can be proud or ashamed of scars but there will always be a story behind every scar a person has.