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Palisades senior Drew Nichols says he has been a pirate his whole life. He started playing flag football at the age of seven with the youth program and today is a varsity player. He trains for football year round by participating in track during his off season. But, his football career was put in jeopardy when he suffered an injury to his leg during last spring’s track season.
“I was doing sprints and I overextended my leg and I ended up tearing my hamstring,” he says. Drew says his first concern was whether he tore his ACL and whether he would be able to play football for his senior year. Fortunately, Coordinated Health Athletic Trainer Bryan Schapley, who has known Drew since he started youth football, was there to help.
Bryan was able to examine Drew and concluded that he most likely had a hamstring tear. He sent him to Coordinated Health Orthopedic Surgeon Dan Terpstra, M.D. who saw him the next day and confirmed that his hamstring was torn, but said fortunately he didn’t need surgery. Instead Dr. Terpstra referred Drew back to his athletic trainers as well as Coordinated Health Sports Performance in order to strengthen his muscles during the summer.
“Drew was completely committed to his recovery and just wanted to get back out there with his teammates,” says Coordinated Health Athletic Trainer Kati Holmes.
The rehabilitation that athletic trainers did with Drew began with stretching and then progressed to jogging. After he was able to run, trainers began him on a weight lifting program as well. The goal of the entire process was to strengthen the muscles around his hamstring.
Drew believes that going through the recovery process for his hamstring injury has actually made him a better football player.”I remember one day I was working with the sports performance team outside while the team was practicing and then my leg felt so much better so I just started doing the same exercises at every single practice and I just got better from there,” he says.
Now, even though he is recovered Drew continues to work with the athletic trainers every day. “They do a great job and get us ready for the games so that we don’t need to worry about being injured. I really recommend other athletes go to see the athletic trainers even if they aren’t injured,” he says.
Drew’s goal is to play football in college, but is still undecided as to where he wants to go. His advice to other athletes is to take care of your body and stretch. “Flexibility plays a huge role in injury prevention and that’s something I didn’t know,” he says.