Mentally tough

Sometimes it takes years to get back from an injury – and we aren’t talking about physically. Sure, physically you need to be 100 percent – or close to it – to get back on the field and the play. But, being 100 percent mentally may take a little longer.

We all know athletes are tough – they are put on a petastal for showing how tough they are. You hear it all the time how this person played through injury. How this person played with a cast on his/her hand or just came back after getting stitches.

What people don’t understand is the mental effect injuries can take on a person. Athletes feel they will be letting their team down if they don’t get out there and play. But, mentally, it wears a person down. Having to come back from an injurie, or injuries, is not an easy thing to do.

The rehab a player has to go through just to get back on the field is grueling. There are times they want to give up and call it career instead of sitting and working hard to get back on the field. There are times athletes have to get over the mental hump of not being part of the team.

Sure, you are on the sideline, but you aren’t really part of the team. You are doing your own thing rehabbing and trying to get back.

Williamsville North High School running back Ivan Ghemmegne knows what it’s like to fight back from an injury. The Spartan running back went through a gruesome injury that took a couple of years for him to get back on the field.
It wasn’t the physically part, he was ready to go. It was the mental part – and the what if this happens again?

Once he got over the fact that injuries are the part of the game, Ghemmegne was ready to get on the field and dominate.

“Coming back from that injury was probably the hardest thing I did in my life,” stated Ghemmegne. Physically, I was ready to play but mentally I just couldn’t do it. I’ll get flash backs as soon as I start running, but eventually I got passed it”

You could say that the time off from the football team was a blessing in disguise for Ghemmegne. No one ever wants to get hurt and go through what Ghemmegne went through. But, it opened his eyes to other things.

Ghemmegne was all about football. It was football 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He ate and slept football. When the injury occurred, Ghemmegne knew that he needed to be more focused on school. He realized that football could be taken away from him at any point and time. And, to be successful in life, school became a top priority.

“First thing that went through my mind was ‘school’ because I have always thought about football and football only,” stated Ghemmegne. “That injury opened my eyes and showed me that I can lose it just like that, but I cannot lose my knowledge”

Knowledge is a great a tool to have. The more knowledge you have the better – and that goes for the books and the field. Ghemmegne has taken studying seriously both on and off the field and the rest of the league is paying for it.

He has been an absolute beast on the field for the Spartans this year – and is one of the main reasons for the type of season the team was having.

Ghemmegne will be the first one to tell you that it took some time him to get back to his normal bruising running self. But, once he did, watch out. He has been putting the hurt on opposing defenses all season long.

“My ability to read the defense before the ball snap and knowing what the linebackers are doing base on the play call (is what has helped me this season),” explained Ghemmegne. “The explosiveness came back in the weight room, working hard every day, nonstop, from Monday to Monday.”

Just think this season might not have been if it wasn’t for all the hard work that Ghemmegne put in during his rehab. There were days he wanted to give up. There were days he wanted quit. But, quitting isn’t in Ghemmegne’s vocabulary.

He wasn’t going to let his team down, or himself down. The love of the game was more stronger than the extra rehab he was doing.

“The Rehab process was a long process, because I had to first learn how to walk again, and that wasn’t easy, I kept pushing myself because I wanted to come back way better than I was. I wanted to come back stronger faster and bigger and I did,” stated Ghemmegne. “I didn’t give up because the love I have for the game is stronger than life itself. I just couldn’t give up. I had to fight and fight every to come back. I talked to people who had the same injuries. I talked to a good friend of mine, he’s like an older brother, Zac Kelly. He kept me pushing on my leg and trying to get back fast. I also talk to Laquon Treadwell from Ole Miss, now with the Vikings. I talked to Boobie Dickson one time before a game at the New Era. He was telling me that I should use that pain as motivation and the exact same day Thurman Thomas told me the same thing. We were all eating food before the Bills game I remember they were playing the Giants, and all that just hit me and I realized that this pain is only temporary. I’ll be back and I didn’t give up. The really big reason why I didn’t give up was the man I look up to, Dan Kelly, he sat me down and just talked to me for hours with my mom and said things I still remember today. That conversation with him and my mom definitely kept me going”

What also kept him going was family. Without family a person is nothing. Family is there through thick and thin. They knew you when you were a nothing just playing pee-wee football, and they know you now when you are become something big.

Without the love and support of a person’s family, doing all this rehab is for nothing. Playing all these games and scoring touchdowns doesn’t mean a thing.

“My family’s always been here for me throughout my whole career. I can’t even thank them enough for supporting me throughout all those years of football and more. Watching my mother and sister cry because of the injury honestly killed me inside, because my mom is a strong woman and I’ve never saw her cry before,” stated Ghemmegne. “Seeing her like that absolutely destroyed me but, now that everything’s over with, she’s starting to feel better again about me playing. I remember one game last year I caught a cramp and she came running to the field thinking I was hurt again. I don’t really know how to explain this but my family pushes me more to play football, because I more than just one reason to play.”