Having any injury can be difficult for any person to overcome, especially an athlete. Most athletes endure hours of practice, conditioning and meetings nearly year round, then on top of that in-season games. Most athletes feel lost without their sport, almost as if a piece of them is missing. To miss more than one game can be difficult, but to miss a whole season, let alone miss two can be devastating.
That is what happened to redshirt sophomore Jack Wardale. During his redshirt freshman year, he fractured both his right tibia and fibula while playing soccer near his home in Norwich, England. After training hard and returning stronger than before, Jack suffered another devastating blow when he fractured his left tibia and fibula during a soccer match against The University of California in September of 2015.
Wardale said, “it was a big blow the second time especially, being captain and expecting to lead the team to our first PSAC championship.”
Going through these horrible injuries is even more difficult when Jack is nearly 4,000 miles from home – Norfolk, Great Britain. Jack said that he chose to come to Seton Hill University (SHU) because he wanted a second home, moving at only 18 years old, and SHU provided the perfect opportunity for him to do that while continuing his education and soccer career.
“The support I received from the school while I was recovering both times was a justification that I made the right decision coming here,” said Wardale.
While recovering from both of these injuries, Wardale has been working on his biology major and double minors in chemistry and psychology, as well as reflecting on his experiences. Although Wardale has such a strong love for the game, he has realized that there is more to life than soccer, and health is definitely one of them. It has also taught him to put everything into perspective.
“I have learned to be incredibly grateful for the opportunity I have to compete. Never take it for granted, I certainly did before my first break, and also to train as hard as you can. You never know when the opportunity may be taken away from you, so enjoy the ride, even if you have the tendency to struggle in the moment,” said Wardale.
He explained how easy it could have been to just hang up the cleats and move on with life. But with the strong support from his fellow teammates and family, Wardale was able to overcome this adversity.
“At the time, it is natural to ask yourself “why me?” but at the same time I would not wish anyone to have suffered what I have been through so in a way I was grateful God chose me. I no longer complain about having to run, knowing what it feels like to momentarily have that taken away from me,” said Wardale.
“It tested my patience for sure, and I have never been a patient person, however I believe now I am a lot more so having come out the other side! I think I could handle most things life throws at me now, I am basically bionic. I can look back it and laugh now, that’s the beauty of life, and I am so thankful that I can do that.”
As for the Griffins men’s soccer team, they are currently in off-season training preparing them for the upcoming season next semester.