Column: Loyola’s Xavier Rice is ready for a new chapter in comeback history

Few things are more devastating for a teenage athlete than an injury at the end of the season. It happened to the quarterback Xavier Rice or Los Angeles Loyola High in the second quarter of last season’s second game.

He rolled to the left and after he released the ball, his foot caught on the lawn. They helped him off the field. At first, no one believed that the injury was serious. He could still walk. He could run on the sidelines. He won back.

After a couple of draws, despite the fact that he was wearing a knee brace, the same leg buckled after a strong click. “I heard it burst,” he said of his right knee. “I think I did something the first time and then forgot.”

He had never been injured while playing sports, so when he went to the doctor’s office for an MRI and was told the result was a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament, his reaction was understandable.

“I distinctly remember when they showed the picture,” he said. “He went where everything should be. “This black space is where your ACL should be. There’s nothing there.’ I remember almost fainting when he told me I couldn’t play for the rest of the season.”

Dealing with the physical effects of a late-season injury isn’t easy, but the psychological issues are no less difficult. Recovery does not come simply in the hope that the injury will heal. There is so much more to it, lessons to be learned and, of course, adversity to be overcome. But once permission is given to return, all the hard work, sweat and tears are ultimately worth it, Rice said.

“As a child, I never had an injury that got in my way,” he said. “So it was definitely something new that I had to learn, but over time I realized that all I can do is worry about what I can control. It didn’t heal the next day. I had to take it every day.”

The night he learned that he would be suspended for about the ninth month, he wept and wept.

Loyola sports coach Tim Moskitsky said, “Panic. The first 24, 48 hours, ‘Why me? My God, my career is over.’ As soon as you can give them a day or two to calm down and talk about the surgery and rehabilitation process, they will have hope.”

Dr. Richard Ferkel, an orthopedic surgeon, said he would never tell an athlete over the phone that an injury is coming to an end. This would be personal because the news is almost always a “traumatic event” and he wants to offer comfort and a plan for the future.

Rice focused on recovery, and his mental state was helped by rooting behind the sideline in order for teammates to succeed during the season. His parents also offered positive reinforcement.

“They knew I wouldn’t hang my head,” he said.

Technologies and methods of treatment of anterior cruciate ligament injuries have changed a lot. You can’t see the incision on his right knee because it was an arthroscopic operation. There was a time 30 years ago that the knee remained immobilized for six weeks after the operation and large scars were visible. Currently, some patients are already cycling the next day, and rehabilitation is carried out even before surgery.

Rice spent five months strengthening her knee with light weightlifting and running exercises, as well as using an anti-gravity machine. His weight dropped from 180 pounds to 168 with inactivity and he was told not to make any passes because the surgically repaired knee was on his pivot leg. This requires patience and discipline.

This summer, Rice wore a new anterior cruciate ligament brace on his right knee while playing seven-on-seven passing events. His weight increased to 190 pounds. He is allowed full contact in his senior season.

“The doctor said that most people actually get stronger after an ACL injury,” Rice said.

The next big step is going to be the mental barrier of taking his first hit and not panicking if he gets knee pain. He watched an interview with the Cincinnati Bengals quarterback. Joe Burrowwho had his own anterior cruciate ligament tear injury, and Burrow said the knee got stronger week after week.

Ferkel said the return requires patience. Returning too early can lead to another breakup. “It’s a huge amount of work to come back and a child has to be fully committed to their desire to come back,” he said.

Rice isn’t the only player recovering from an injury at the end of the season. bell tower st. Midfielder John Bosco Kingston William-Asa missed his second season with an ACL tear in the final game of the 2021 COVID-19 spring season. He’s back this summer looking stronger than ever.

“I have learned patience,” he said. “I have learned to overcome difficulties. It makes me appreciate the game a lot more.”

Wide wide receiver Jackson Hughes of the Anaheim Servite broke his ankle last season and missed his team going to the Division 1 Southern Finals. “It sucked not to be there, but I learned a lot,” he said.

defender Darius Curry or Long Beach Poly suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury midway through last season. Now he’s back and is a leading candidate for a spot in the starting XI for his junior season.

Comeback stories are great to tell, especially because of the commitment it takes to come back. Rice and others who returned from season-ending injuries in 2021 have earned respect and admiration for the difficult path they have had to go through.