Sports football rolling list websitevirtual children by Scott Warnock

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As I trailed the ambulance that transported Nate, my 16-year-old middle child, to the hospital last weekend, it struck me: In all their years playing sports, none of my kids had ever been seriously hurt.

It was a gap in my dialogue about youth sports. Fortune had been on their side.

So I was in uncharted territory when, in the opening minutes of the first game of what may have been our last tournament as the Inferno, a club team he was with for 10 years, my son took a bad fall after getting tugged down from behind.

I missed it. instead of focusing on my primary job as the assistant coach/manager of our team, keeping accurate time (a job I often do poorly), I was helping assemble a sideline tent.

Nate came off the field with his arm locked and extended. Although he takes German in high school, he announced in agrammatical Spanish that he couldn’t bend his arm. “Oh no, he’s speaking in tongues,” I thought, as a large knot below his elbow leapt into view.

We all hoped, knot aside, he would shake it off, but it was evident there was more to it. He couldn’t bend the arm and was quiet but flush with pain. The trainer who arrived immediately suspected a break. I said I’d take him to a nearby Urgent Care, but she said he needed to go by ambulance. Now.

Coming from the rub-some-dirt-on-it school, I thought that sounded excessive, but he indeed did not look good. EMTs and an ambulance raced across the fields, and they assessed that he was showing early signs of shock. They took one look and also suspected a broken elbow. We were off to the hospital.

Everyone in the ER was nice as could be, but after giving him morphine, they ordered x-rays that, to everyone’s surprise, were inconclusive: No obvious sign of a break.

So what could we do? They sent us home and told us to go to an orthopedic specialist.

Spoiler: This ends up okay; but I was struck by my feelings. My kids have grown up strong and healthy. It has been many years since I’ve felt that protector role, that sense of their incredible vulnerability when they’re young and anything can hurt them. Here I was with a high schooler I now look up to, literally. With both of my boys, I’m constantly wrestling and grab-assing, yet now I was sensitive to a bump, a jostle. I was getting him stuff from the kitchen.

The visit to the orthopedic specialist a couple days later was incredibly frustrating: We entered the health care carnival. The ER report contained this line: “There is definite fracture, misalignment, or bone abnormality on these limited views.” The ortho pointed out that the word “no” was clearly missing from before the word “definite.” You don’t need a PhD in English to know that the word “no” significantly changes the meaning of that sentence.

The ortho, himself clearly frustrated, said he could direct us down the hall for the x-rays that would clarify what was going on, but that would be prohibitively expensive. Instead, he gave us a prescription for images, which we would have to get that week and then return to him a few days later.

So, it is 2018 in the U.S., and I’m a reasonably educated person with reasonably good health insurance. Yet it would take a week to confirm whether my son’s arm was broken. As it turned out, we got the images, returned to the ortho, and with the better view, the doctor said the arm wasn’t broken. A deep bone bruise or even sprain was probably the culprit.

But as he enters his senior summer, I had a reflective moment many parents of athletes have had, many of whom weren’t as lucky: What will it be like now that he’s had this sport taken away from him? Our youngest is entering high school, and they can’t wait to play Palmyra soccer together. What if that were suddenly gone?

I also thought: What character will be built through this?

But, as I said, we got lucky. It’s okay. My son doesn’t give me much, so I don’t know what he thinks about it all. Will this glimmer of what could not be, this scare, propel him a little beyond himself? I suppose we’ll find out.


This injury happened at a showcase tournament, as I mentioned, 90 seconds into the first game. Apparently, some colleges still liked what they saw. A few days later, Nate received an email saying, “It was a pleasure to watch you play at the EDP Cup this weekend. Based upon my observation I believe you possess the proper qualities we look for in an ___ College Men’s Soccer Player.”

I was tempted to respond: “Our son has played key roles on very good high school and club teams. He has played with great players. We have enjoyed watching him for 12 years, and we are thrilled that you saw the same potential in him that we as proud parents see after you watched him for 90 seconds. Either he is indeed that good, or you are one hell of a scout.”

Scott Warnock is a writer and teacher who lives in South Jersey. He is a professor of English at Drexel University, where he directs the University Writing Program. Father of three and husband of one, Scott is on two local school boards and coaches all kinds of youth sports.

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One Response to “Injury”

  1. As always, reading your words is such a pleasure! This time though, as a Mother, I felt that pang of anxiety that paid a visit to your heart when your son was injured. He’s one lucky kid to have you for his kitchen goffer and Dad. Maybe renting a nurses costume and answering his kitchen calls while wearing it would add a touch of humor to his situation. Sending get well wishes for a speedy recovery…stay strong but remember to baby him a bit…he’ll heal more quickly! :-)

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