By Charlie Norgaard
This year’s OES women’s lacrosse team, and their journey towards becoming State Champions, has sadly been plagued with an astonishing number of injuries.
Within the last few months, the team has lost seven starters, while also having several on and off the field injuries.
Last year, they dominated their conference and advanced all the way through playoffs, where they competed against Lake Oswego High School in the State final, however they have struggled to compete at the same level this season. While they still have the potential to be one of the top teams in Oregon, if the injuries continue, the goal will be a challenging one.
At the start of the season, the women’s lacrosse program already struggled to field both a JV and Varsity team. Now the team currently has seven starters out due to injuries ranging from ACL and meniscus tears to shin splints and joint injuries.
OES athletic trainer, Joel Gray, who has dealt with many similar injuries during his career, described the situation as a “statistical anomaly.” He claimed that he had never seen so many similar injuries occur in one sport during a single season.
Gray emphasized that it’s difficult to conclude the exact cause of so many injuries within the same timeframe, but he theorizes that excessive muscular fatigue could be a leading factor. Bankowski said, “This year, our numbers were low to begin with so our bench wasn’t very deep and we were young from the start. With 4 starting players out for the season and many other injuries, we’ve had to bring up a number of players from JV. We now have only five returning varsity players and varsity starters who have only played lacrosse for a year or two.” With so few overall players, the entire starting line up has had to play entire games with little to no substitution breaks at all.
In a high-intensity, fast-paced sport like women’s lacrosse, this is a dangerous situation. Unlike men’s lacrosse, women’s lacrosse involves much more full field running and fewer prolonged dead-ball situations. With such a small team, the players are exposed to constant exhaustion and muscular fatigue throughout each game, which can sometimes put players in vulnerable positions and heightens the risk for injury.
Given the number of injuries during this spring season, Gray is looking to strengthen the injury prevention program at OES even more and he is working with the athletic directors towards improving off-season strength training and injury prevention training.
Some of these efforts were seen earlier this year, when Adapt Training, a personal training company, was brought in to speak with the Sports Leadership activity about injury prevention. Additionally, Bankowski also said she is looking to bring in personal strength coaches to help with pre-season strength training and injury prevention.
For now, the women’s lacrosse team will have to fight through these obstacles and scrap for their wins. There is little doubt that the team will continue to have a phenomenal season despite the injuries, and the community is encouraged to continue supporting the team as they battle their way through the rest of the season.