Healing injuries in club sports can get creative

Korey Peterson

Injuries are an inevitable part of the sports world.

Athletes from pee wee to professional leagues use their bodies for competition, making these injury risks unavoidable. As players get older, faster, bigger and stronger, injuries become regular, if not expected.

Professional athletes have professional trainers and team physicians to rehabilitate them. University varsity athletes also enjoy the luxury of having an injury taken care of with no financial cost to the individual.

At NIU, club sports teams have to be resourceful when it comes to treating injuries. Budgets typically don’t allow these clubs to cover medical expenses.

Dave Jasper, club president for NIU lacrosse, was forced to sit out this season after he injured his knee in the first game of the year.

“I was running and tried to cut towards the ball when I hit some bad grass,” he said. “My leg got stuck and my knee blew out. I ended up tearing my ACL, MCL, LCL and medial meniscus.”

The injury not only cost him playing time, it will also cost him money. According to the NIU student health insurance plan, no benefits will be paid for “injury sustained while participating in any intercollegiate or professional sport, contest or competition.”

Some club teams, such as the NIU hockey team, get creative when it comes to treating impairments. Most club hockey teams enlist the services of a volunteer trainer.

“It works out that one of the player’s girlfriend is an athletic training major,” said junior club president Mike Sible, who sat out a game a few weeks ago after taking a shot off of his skate. “I didn’t go get x-rays on my ankle, but if I were to have, I would have had to pay for them.”

All teams that are a part of the American Collegiate Hockey Association are required to register with USA Hockey. Insurance comes with being a member of USA Hockey, but there is a $1,000 dollar deductible per player. According to the USA Hockey website, the “coverage is designed to supplement your current primary insurance plan and only pays for treatments after the primary has been used.”

While the hockey team does have some form of insurance, other sports leave the injury concerns to the individual players. But most athletes have come to accept the fact that these health concerns are just a part of playing sports.

“All athletes should just accept the fact that injuries are a part of the game,” said Jasper. “It’s unfortunate to see anyone go down because we’re all just college students. We’re not on scholarships, we’re not covered, and we still have to show up to class regardless of the severity of the injury.”