This isn’t the way defensive end Jacob Wright wanted to spend his third year with the Signal Mountain Eagles.
The SMMHS junior, who was injured during the Eagles’ Aug. 17 game with East Hamilton, suffered a dislocated kneecap and grade II MCL injury.
“Another guy got knocked down and his legs swung around and caught my left knee,” he said matter-of-factly. “It was a freak accident.”
At first, he said, the pain was so bad he lay on the field in shock.
But athletic trainer Casey Riley and his coaches – “the best coaching staff in the state,” he is convinced – were beside him instantly, and within minutes Ms. Riley had popped his dislocated kneecap back into place.
He had another stroke of good luck, Wright said. Dr. Todd Bell of the locally renowned Center for Sports Medicine and Orthopaedics, who was attending the game, walked over to where he was lying and began assessing the injuries to his leg
“He felt around the inside of my knee and told me I probably had a torn MCL,” he said. “He set me up with an MRI and called me in a prescription . . . Then they got me some crutches and a brace, and I stood there and watched till the end of the game.”
Wright’s goal, from that moment on, has been to get back on the field and play with his team again. Toward that end, he spent the weekend after the accident icing his injured knee and resting it so it could begin to heal.
Since then, at the direction of his doctor and his athletic trainer, he has worked to keep himself in shape to play and, at the same time, avoid re-injuring his knee.
He attends team practices, which are held four days a week and last an average 90 minutes to two hours.
But instead of working out with defensive end Elijah Turnage and defensive tackles James McClellan and William Franklin – “we’re like brothers, we’re a team,” he explained – Wright spends the time doing stretching exercises and squats (without weights) and walking the sidelines.
Ms. Riley, his trainer, is closely supervising his recuperation, he said. “She told me to push myself hard . . . keep walking until I’m too sore to walk any more.”
It hasn’t been easy, Wright admitted, but it’s taught him an important lesson: “Never take anything for granted . . . Nobody is invincible.”
Soon, he’s determined, he will be back playing. He’ll be wearing a brace to protect his knee, he said, “but I’ll be back with my team.”