ACL injuries


Drew Pedersen

It was a Thursday night, August 25, and the West Ottawa Varsity Panthers football team was competing in their first football game of the season. The team was led by quarterback Soph. Isaac VanDyke who had played exceptionally well in the first half. In the third quarter, Coach Ryan Oshnock called in a play for Vandyke to run the ball. VanDyke headed to the line and began his cadence, “ready, set go.” He caught the snap and ran through the middle, broke a tackle, and then took a hit from the middle linebacker of Mona Shores. This hit however, was not a usual hit. “I got hit on the outside of my right knee.  During the hit, my knee got pushed inward and that tore my ACL and meniscus,” VanDyke said.

  This is VanDyke’s first serious injury in his sports career. VanDyke, a very talented athlete in football, basketball, and baseball, will unfortunately miss all three sports this year. Not only does VanDyke have a long recovery process but he also has a lot of rehabilitation. “I have to do five days of rehabilitation for the next nine months,” VanDyke said. Although experts such as Texas Sports Medicine say that ACL injuries are more common in people that specialize in one sport, VanDyke still managed to tear his ACL. In addition, experts conclude that high intensity training also adds to the risk of an ACL injury.  Since VanDyke competes in football, he endures high intensity practices and games every day. Unfortunately, VanDyke was unable to elude the heartbreaking injury against the Mona Shores.

  Similar to VanDyke, Sr. Will Mulder also experienced the season-ending injury of tearing his ACL. However, Mulder has to miss his last high school football season. Also, Mulder tore his ACL prior to the season not even allowing him to fully suit up for a practice. Mulder injured his ACL during one of the first seven on sevens in July. “I caught a ball at a Zeeland East seven on seven and a kid pushed me and my knee like hyperextended and folded over and then just laid there, it was rough,” Mulder said.  

  Recovery for the ACL injury is a long process, for example, rehabilitation can take nine months and can be up to five days a week.  Mulder explained that he has to do rehabilitation only twice a week and is already back jogging. Since Mulder’s injury was less intense than VanDyke’s, his recovery will most likely be faster. Although it may seem apparent that Mulder can compete in sports soon since he is already jogging, Mulder likely has another six months until he can play again. Similar to VanDyke, Mulder competes in multiple sports, therefore, specializing in one sport was not the cause of the injury. Although experts believe that specializing in one sport or competing in high intensity practices are most likely the causes of an ACL injury, Mulder and VanDyke both proved that sometimes players are unlucky when it comes to injuries.

  Since both VanDyke and Mulder tore their ACL the football team has not necessarily had a successful start.  Starting the season 1-4, the Panthers miss their starting running back and quarterback greatly.  Coach Joe Diekevers explained some of the challenges the football team has faced this season.  “[Mulder] had a great summer and was going to be one of our most dynamic offensive players this year. Isaac was playing great and helped our offense gain close to 400 yards against a very good Mona Shores team. Obviously, when you lose two of your best players it affects the team.  Fortunately, we have had guys step up.” Diekevers went on to explain the various players that had stepped up to help the team as much as possible.  But with injuries to a team’s top players, it is very hard to rebound.  Despite the injuries, the football team hopes to have a successful season.