“I did this weird front-flip in the air and heard a loud crack. When I was in the air, I saw my leg kind of snap.”
Paul Bernard, a freshman business administration major, described the accident that broke his leg a few weeks ago, leaving him unable to do much of anything on his own.
Many of you may have heard about Bernard, who snapped his leg while playing society soccer. Others may be aware of the fact that several Bruins are out for the season because of various serious injuries.
How exactly did these injuries happen? And how have they affected these athletes? Three students at BJU give their stories and describe what God has taught them through these unfortunate circumstances.
A freshman at BJU, Bernard broke his leg in a society soccer game a few weeks ago and is in a wheelchair for about six more weeks. While playing for his society, Alpha, Bernard collided with the other team’s goalie as he was trying to get a goal.
After a flip in the air, Bernard said he was on the ground for a long time. When he was unable to get up, Bernard was taken to the emergency room. Bernard had a partial break in his fibula, but his tibia was completely broken. He had to wait until morning to have surgery.
During the procedure, doctors put a rod in Bernard’s tibia and screws in his knee and ankle. Bernard said he was thankful for the faculty at BJU during his initial recovery period. “I was out of class for at least a full week,” he said. “Mr. Daulton, the dean of men, contacted my teachers and the registrar’s office so my absences wouldn’t count.”
Although he said getting around to classes is hard, he’s thankful for his friends who help out. “My boy, Juan, right here—he’s helped me the most,” Bernard said. “He’s been pushing me around. The biggest thing is probably having to wake up earlier to get to class on time.”
Bernard said he was able to move from his third-floor room in the residence halls to the first floor since there is no elevator. His third-floor roommate, Justin Conn, had driven straight to the hospital after Bernard was taken off the soccer field in an ambulance.
After Bernard’s procedure, Conn brought a lot of his belongings down to his first-floor room, where Bernard is staying with two new roommates.
This injury was a wake-up call for Bernard that reminded him to rely on God. He said that at first, it was really discouraging to not be able to be as active as he has wanted to be—especially since it’s his freshman year. “I wanted to do society sports and get around and meet people,” he said.
However, he has seen some good come of the injury.
“I’ve gotten closer to some of my friends,” he said. “And my injury opens new doors for different things I can do and different people I can meet.”
Erin Jarvis, a junior business administration major and Bruins volleyball player, first tore her ACL last year during society basketball. She made a full recovery by the time volleyball preseason came around, but four weeks into the season, she tore her ACL in her other leg.
“The hardest part is realizing what your new role is on the team,” Jarvis said. “But your role is so much more important than being on the court.”
She described how she is able to get to know the girls, invest in them spiritually and cheer them on and help them from the sidelines. “[I can] give them tips and advice that they can’t necessarily see on the court,” she said.
Jarvis also manages the team’s Instagram account, and she has seen their following grow by over 200 people since she took over the account. “Instead of just moping around on the sideline, [managing the social media accounts] keeps me busy,” she said. “And then [the players’] parents can see what they’re doing in the games.”
Jarvis said she is thankful that God gave her the team and coach that she has. “God, first and foremost, has seriously blessed me with an incredible team and coach,” Jarvis said. “Getting encouragement from them every day has been huge.”
Jarvis mentioned Chapman Harwood, a Bruins basketball player, as being instrumental in reminding her that God has a plan through everything. “[Harwood] helped me see the positives in this that God wants me to see,” she said.
Jarvis will continue physical therapy and recovery for the next six to nine months but is hopeful to be entirely recovered for next year’s volleyball season. Nate Ellenwood, a junior sport management major and Bruins basketball player, snapped his Achilles while on a mission trip in Ireland this summer.
Ellenwood and his teammates used basketball and golf as a platform for reaching the unsaved in the area.
But during one game, Ellenwood took a step and his Achilles snapped in half. “I tore my Achilles, which is actually super rare for a person under the age of 50,” he said. “I had surgery three months ago, and I still can’t walk normally yet.”
Ellenwood said the recovery process is long, requiring him to go to therapy five times a week.
After using crutches and then a walking boot, Ellenwood had to learn to walk again because the muscles in his leg had shut down after over a month without use.
He still watches basketball practice every day. “My teammates and my coaches have been encouraging me a lot,” he said.
Ellenwood also spends a lot of time with Alex Kipp, the team’s manager. “I help [Kipp] with whatever he needs me to do,” he said.
Ellenwood said his injury helps him remember that God wants him to focus on other people and not just himself.
When he focuses on just himself, he said his day gets worse. “If you have a bad day [and] you focus on other people, it actually makes your day go better,” he said.