Assistant Sports Editor
Intramural sports have long been a part of the Springfield College community, and they have had many positive effects on students both past and present. They help students keep active, create friendships and give some a chance to extend a sports career that otherwise would have been finished.
For senior Springfield golfer Tom Sangeloty, intramural soccer changed his life, whether he saw it coming or not.
On Oct. 25, 2010, at 10:30 p.m., a soccer ball soared up in the air and Sangeloty finally decided to give it a chance. He was going to attempt a very tricky, difficult shot known as a “bicycle kick.” Sangeloty thinks back on his attempt to channel his inner-Wayne Rooney as a decision he regrets. What happened in the ensuing moments to the now-senior was gruesome. He landed on his right foot, after bailing out on the bicycle attempt while in midair, and heard a “loud snap.”
Sangeloty broke his fibula and tore each and every ligament in his ankle. The pain was immediate as Sangeloty fell to the ground. He remembers instantly looking at his foot to realize it was “pointing towards 3 o’clock.”
The next morning, Sangeloty had surgery to fix the damage. They put a six-inch titanium plate on his fibula, attached by eight small screws. They also inserted two long, temporary screws that kept his tibia and fibula connected during the healing process. Four months later, the temporary screws were removed; the titanium plate, however, is permanent.
Sangeloty’s golf career was suddenly in doubt. Deeper than that, he was nervous he would never be able to walk normally again.
“Knowing that I might not get back to normal was another difficult reality to face,” said Sangeloty. “I love sports; I love to move and to be physically active. Being at this school and not being able to run around was torture.”
The torture, unfortunately, carried on throughout his downtime and physical therapy, but his progress towards being “active” in the future kept him working towards full health. With further physical therapy, being able to recover fully was becoming a reality to Sangeloty, thus turning his hopes towards being able to golf again.
The game of golf directly translates to the recovery that Sangeloty went through from his injury. Sangeloty defined “patience” and “mental toughness” as two necessary qualities for a successful golfer to possess. The same could be said about someone trying to recover from a broken fibula and torn ligaments.
Sangeloty had to be patient during the process and could not push himself too hard or too fast, as one setback could have ruined his chances of recovering fully. He also had to be mentally tough from the time the injury happened until the time he could get back on the links. The physical pain from the injury was tough enough, but staying mentally aware and strong during this time was also a huge challenge to deal with.
“It goes back to the saying, ‘You don’t really know what you have until you’ve lost it,’” said Sangeloty. “Not being able to walk normally for eight months after having been healthy and broken-bone free my entire life was challenging.”
Sangeloty feels his game has improved since the injury, even though the range of motion in his ankle is limited and the game takes a much more physical toll on his body than it did before. There is no need to try to figure out how this could be, as Sangeloty formed a “hypothesis” of his own.
“Golf is a very slow-paced, not very strenuous sport. Having the injury changed my game, but I think it was for the better,” said Sangeloty. “I’ve concluded that the injury has calmed my body movements down, which has synchronized my upper and lower body movements. I attribute my latest success to this hypothesis. It was a freak accident, and it happened randomly and could have happened to anyone. Challenging? Yes. Eye-opening? Definitely. Do I ever plan on doing it again? Not a chance!”
The “eye-opening” element of the injury made Sangeloty into more of a leader. It put everything into perspective for him. The ability to swing a club, the ability to walk and the ability to be “active” were all things Sangeloty once took for granted.
“His play has improved, yes, but so has his leadership,” said coach Joe Eadie. “He is the heart and soul of this team.”
Dylan Tully may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org