Inside the life of injured athletes


SLS receiver Jaysen Peters DeLaura making a play against Bishop Gorman earlier this year. DeLaura missed the “Friday Night Lights” feeling when he was injured. Photo courtesy of DeLaura.

In the United States, approximately eight million high school students play sports. One million of them are injured. 

Two student athletes, Sacred Hearts Academy student Emma Mangalao and Jaysen Peters DeLaura of Saint Louis School (SLS), share their experience after becoming injured. 


Impacting school and social life

Being injured comes with many effects on a student’s life. The daily things that they practice may change. DeLaura tore his PCL, a ligament in his knee, during a football game against Punahou School. As a main receiver for the Crusaders, this took a toll on both him and his team. 

His schedule changed when he started rehab for his knee. He missed classes and was required to study more on his own. Teachers weren’t always available to assist him either.

Not only that, the social aspect becomes affected as well. He interacted with his friends less. 

An article called, “Friendship and mental health,” says, “Friendship is a crucial element in protecting our mental health. Our friends can keep us grounded, help us get things in perspective, and help us manage life’s problems.” 


Decreasing productivity

With injuries restricting student athletes, their overall productivity may decrease. 

DeLaura mentioned how it is harder for him to do daily activities such as playing with his family, walking around school or lifting heavier things. 

DeLaura said that he sometimes gets frustrated because he can only do upper body exercises, which makes him feel like his legs are becoming weaker. For him, building up his legs is a big part of his sport and can really make all the difference in how he performs.

Mangalao, of the Academy, was injured playing basketball. This skilled sophomore had torn her ACL, a ligament in her knee, which resulted in surgery. Her productivity was greatly affected. Instead of practicing, playing multiple games and even traveling during the summer, she had to recover. 

With the drastic change from daily basketball practices to resting and physical therapy, she felt lost but decided to change that. Mangalao soon proceeded to exercise more and spend time with her friends.

The mental toll that productivity and exercise can have on someone is greater than expected. Many athletes go to their sports or workouts for relieving stress or getting away from the worries of the world. 

According to Psychology Today, high productivity levels can bring motivation, personality, natural talent, time management, working habits and much more. Also according to “Psychology Today,” productivity often relies on work or things that they find meaningful or valuable. Taking sports away, something that many students find both significant and valuable, kills the source of motivation to be productive.

Taking a toll on mental health

Psychological Issues Related to Injury in Athletes” shares that emotional responses to injury include sadness, feelings of isolation, irritation, lack of motivation, frustration, anger, alterations in appetite, sleep disturbance and feeling disengaged. 

Mangalao explains that this injury had significantly impaired her mental health. She had expressed some symptoms of depression in both behavior and physical ways. 

“Some student athletes’ response to injury can trigger or unmask serious mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, disordered eating, and substance use or abuse,” according to the NCAA. 


Struggling with self-identity

DeLaura loves football. His performance on the field portrays the time, effort and work he puts into this game. Many know him as a wide receiver for the Crusaders. A lot of what he does revolves around football. Working out, his schedule, school work, relationships and more can all be determined from this sport. 

Mangalao illustrates her love for the sport of basketball. She was a freshman on the varsity team and played competitively outside of school.  For both, their sports were their identities. 

According to 7 Tips For Recovering Mentally After A Sports Injury,” missing out on sports can affect your emotional well-being, social well-being and your self-concept or identity. Athletic validation is one that almost all athletes strive for. With being stripped of their sport, some may feel as if they don’t have the opportunity to prove themselves.

With proper support and help, injured athletes may cope with their injuries in a better way. Bringing light upon the trials that athletes face, especially injured ones, can raise awareness of what they may be going through.