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How Football Changed My Life

September 25, 2004 was the perfect Saturday afternoon to play high school football. The sun was shining, and the weather was beautiful. I was super excited for the game because it was against the powerhouse, Georgetown Prep. It was also the first game of the season I would be playing without a club to protect my broken left hand, an injury I suffered earlier that year in practice.

Now to the game…I had just scored a touchdown and we were up on the scoreboard. In fact, we were beating them pretty soundly. After kicking the ball off, our defense quickly ran on the field, and I took my post as the safety in the back. Channeling my inner Ed Reed, whom I modeled my game after, I could see the play developing. BAMM! off I went like an Olympic sprinter leaving the starting block…I shot the gap. CRACK…. the sound of two bodies clashing against each other. Most people heard the sound of shoulders pads and helmets colliding, but what I heard was different….” Got damn it I broke another bone!”

I knew I had broken something because I had previously broken 10 bones, but this time was different. This time my entire body was tingling…that tingling feeling you get when a body part falls asleep. Despite that, I wasn’t worried because in football we called that a stinger, which usually occurred when you hit a limb in an uncomfortable way. I thought to myself, “I’m going to lay here for a few seconds and then get up.” Finally, “Get up Van, get up” I said to myself trying to move.