Student learns from constant injuries


Jack Baldwin, a sophomore, sustained his first injury in September 2017. He wore the cast for 15 weeks. Despite his best efforts, he has struggled to remain injury-free since the initial football injury.

I remember the day: Sept. 11, 2017. On that warm, sunny Monday afternoon on the soccer field, I was the quarterback. The rule always was, you could never tackle the quarterback, and we lived by that. But on this particular play, our running back had to sit out a play. This is where Coach took over at quarterback and everything went wrong. 

“Baldwin, go to receiver,” said Coach Morris. “ Yes sir,” I replied. 

If you have ever met me, you know I am neither the fastest nor the most mobile person in the world. So putting me at the receiver position and running a double reverse, where I run the ball, is not the recipe for success. 

Coach Morris snapped the ball and threw it to me. I caught it and started running to the other side of the field. All of a sudden, I opened my eyes, and my leg was facing the other way. Apparently I had been tackled by the entire defensive line, and my leg just twisted until it snapped. Everyone was standing over me. I let out a painful shout. In the background I hear a faint voices fo people on the phone with the emergency response team.

I had a spiral fracture and was going to be in a cast for 15 weeks. I had to be in a wheelchair for seven weeks and then on crutches for another eight weeks. 

Lessons learned. I’m not a running back, then or ever.

And once I got hurt once, the hurt has never truly gone away. Sometimes, in fact, one injury leads to new injuries.  Being a baseball pitcher, I have to make sure my arm is healthy and strong, while also not taking too many breaks for the muscles to weaken. 

Taking 15 weeks off from throwing was a big deal for my arm care. I did not take the smartest approach coming back from my leg injury. I jumped right back in with the rest of the baseball team and started throwing just like they were. 

Approximately two practices in, my elbow started bothering me. I didn’t think much about it at first, but after a few more practices, it began to worsen. I went to the doctor. They took an x-ray. I had sustained a stress fracture in my growth plate in my elbow, which would require me to take three months off of throwing.

This injury really put me down in the dumps because I wanted to be able to play fall ball. Now, because of my leg, I was going to miss all of summer ball due to my arm injury. This injury did, however, require physical therapy. I spent all summer long rehabilitating my arm until I was completely healthy. 

Over the fall, I started getting my arm strength back and really felt like I was on the mend. My elbow felt good. However, I started feeling pain in my shoulder instead. 

More x-rays. Another stress fracture. This time it was in my shoulder and would cost me six more weeks. The rehab was brief and manageable. Of all of my injuries, I was able to keep a good mindset about my return. 

My first high school practice rolled around January 2021. More than three years had passed since my first injury. My comeback was inevitable. I just knew it. But when I threw the first bullpen for my high school team, my shoulder hurt and I knew something was wrong. Again. 

A tiny fracture in the same growth plate appeared in the x-rays. To make matters worse, my bones were also swollen and my shoulder was slightly separated. I didn’t even know that was possible. 

This rehab was much more extensive, more physical therapy, and a three month shut down. Although this was the least painful of injuries I had sustained, it was definitely the most challenging mentally. Maybe God had other plans for my arm. Maybe other people thought I was done. Maybe I didn’t want it to be over. Not yet.

After many talks with my pitching coach and my parents, we decided to take another chance and see what I could do. I still don’t play running back. I’m still not the fastest or most mobile kid out there. But I’m ready to step on the mound and give it one more ride.