Guest column: College football player reflects on teammate’s devastating injury
Contributing writer Joel Wright is a junior defensive back at Ottawa University. He attended Piper High School in Kansas City, Kan., and is also the editor-in-chief of Ottawa's student-run newspaper, The Ottawa Campus.
Matt Bollig was one of the hardest workers I have seen in my time playing football at Ottawa University.
He was one of those guys that had the talent to go along with his work ethic, and was hardly, if ever caught slacking.
He and I have never exactly been the closest of friends, but we are teammates.
During a routine weights session, in the midst of a routine lift, everything changed.
Doing step-ups with around 300 pounds on his back, Matt stepped down on one of his last repetitions, stumbled and “sat down,” according to witnesses of the event.
Just like that, his spine was affected to the point that doctors are unsure if he will ever walk again.
A lot of the time in team sports, teammates tend to look out for their own regardless of their differences.
When word got around that Matt had been injured in a weight room accident, no one had to ask questions, it was kind of an unspoken thought that we would go to the hospital to support him.
It was a mortifying feeling. It is hard to fathom the thought that one day you can go from worrying about conditioning drills to worrying if you’ll ever be able to walk, let alone run again.
Matt doesn’t want any of us to feel sorry for him, and we shouldn’t.
We do feel like we have more to play for this year, though. It’s not just a game anymore.
You never know what life will throw at you, but you can plan to make the most out of every opportunity.
This summer, before Matt left to do his rehab work in Colorado, we went to Overland Park to see him off.
When they brought him in, it seemed like there was an air of certainty brought back to a group of men who found the foundation of their core rattled.
Family, friends, past and present teammates and news crews packed a conference room to see Matt off, and in that time, it was easy to know that he would be fine.
Football teaches us a lot about life, and vice versa. We can reach the highest of the highs and the deepest lows, but there’s always another play.
This season we’ll keep Matt in our minds as a constant reminder that we have to work hard to reach our goals, because there is only a certain timetable on how long any of us really get to chase them.
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