Pushing through illness

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Pushing through illness

by Eva Hoffman

by Eva Hoffman

by Eva Hoffman

Jack McCoy, staff reporter

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Mental toughness. It’s a term thrown around by coaches all the time, whether to motivate a team or to illustrate the characteristics of a good athlete. It’s something most would consider a necessary attribute of sports players. But what factors determine true mental toughness?

Everyday illnesses like the common cold and flu often affect players. While most people take a day off to lie in bed with Netflix and chicken noodle soup, athletes often continue training no matter how awful they may feel, believing that playing through illness can show their true mental strength.

Even at Mounds View, there are many sports players who have been victims to common illnesses during their respective seasons.

Jeremy Vaske, 11, for example, chose to play through a stomach flu earlier this soccer season. “I started to feel sick two days before our second game, and the day before it I threw up a ton. I was still feeling really bad the day of the game but I wasn’t going to miss my first varsity game,” he said.

Other athletes have had similar experiences. Connor McDonald, 11, played a football game while sick in middle school. “It was tough because I had way less energy than usual. I wanted to lay down and sleep. Also, breathing was hard because of nasal congestion,” he said.

Many coaches are willing to play athletes as long as they aren’t contagious. “I leave it up to the player, unless he has a serious illness and could spread it to the rest of the team. Playing through colds and minor flus has never lead to bad results for my kids,” said Thad Weber, coach of the freshmen boys’ basketball team.

Playing through an illness is no simple task, regardless of the sport. Some athletes run the risk of fainting during their games. “I remember at halftime I thought I was going to throw up again and felt lightheaded. I even had to lay down to regain my bearings,” said Vaske.

Along with in-game strain and exhaustion, Vaske also felt worse after the game due to the extra strain on his body. Despite the difficulties both during and after the game, Vaske expressed little regret about playing through his illness. “It was tough… but I’m glad I played my first game. Especially since it was against Irondale so I got a lot of minutes,” he said.

McDonald is also glad he went through with his game, in part due to the great pride he felt for battling through the whole thing with the disadvantage he had. “My heart was in it,” he said. “I played very hard and well despite my sickness, so I felt really proud of myself when we won the game.”

While playing sports through ordinary illnesses can clearly be very difficult, many athletes aren’t willing to allow something as small as the common cold to keep them from stepping on the field.

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