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Despite season-ending injury, junior determined to return

Before+his+injury%2C+Damari+Roberson+was+a+key+offensive+player.+Here%2C+he+catches+a+pass+against+Reeths-Puffer+in+Shores%27+44-6+win.+%28Photo+by+Isaac+Varela%29
Before his injury, Damari Roberson was a key offensive player. Here, he catches a pass against Reeths-Puffer in Shores' 44-6 win. (Photo by Isaac Varela)

Before his injury, Damari Roberson was a key offensive player. Here, he catches a pass against Reeths-Puffer in Shores' 44-6 win. (Photo by Isaac Varela)

Before his injury, Damari Roberson was a key offensive player. Here, he catches a pass against Reeths-Puffer in Shores' 44-6 win. (Photo by Isaac Varela)

Sammie Ladegast, Staff Writer

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When a sea of blue and white left the Homecoming game against Jenison, the fans exited the stadium with the outcome they had hoped for: a 42-7 win that left the varsity football team with a 5-0 record.

However, this seemingly ordinary Friday night game didn’t end the way junior Damari Roberson would have imagined.

On Friday, Sept. 22, Roberson tore his ACL, the anterior cruciate ligament, which is a tissue that connects the thighbone to the shinbone at the knee.

“I was running the ball when I noticed that one of my teammates missed his block,” Roberson said. “This meant that I had to make a move to avoid the player from the opposing team. As I was doing this, I stepped in a hole on the field and hyperextended my knee, tearing my ACL.”

Varsity coach Matt Koziak was also watching from the sidelines when he saw this horrible event unfold.

“It was a toss play to Damari, and he went to cut,” Koziak said. “Next thing I know, he’s on the ground with what I guessed to be a hyperextended knee. It was later that night after he got an MRI that we found out it was a torn ACL. I was heartbroken for him.”

On Monday, Oct. 16 at 11:50 a.m, Roberson had surgery to repair his damaged ligament. This surgery involved an orthopedic surgeon reconstructing the ACL, usually by using a graft to replace it.

“I felt good going into the surgery,” Roberson said. “When I got home from the surgery, I really didn’t feel that much pain. After a few hours, though, my leg felt as if someone was bending it in the opposite direction.”

Not only has this affected his ability to continue his varsity football season, of which he played as the wide receiver and linebacker, his injury will also prevent him from playing basketball in the winter.

“I am, obviously, devastated that this happened to me, and I do feel depressed at times, but I couldn’t let my teammates see me like this,” Roberson said. “I tried to keep them in high spirits and keep my chin up when they’re around.”

While Roberson is trying to keep a positive outlook, Koziak said he is one of a kind.

“Nobody can replace Damari,” Koziak said. “This did show, though, that nobody is immune to injuries and that you must play every play like it’s your last because you never know when an injury can occur.”

This isn’t the first time Roberson has had a serious injury, either. Basketball was the sport to blame for a broken ankle, one of the most common of the bone and joint injuries, back in eighth grade.

“I broke my ankle during warm-ups at basketball after I dunked the ball,” he said. “This injury didn’t really matter that much to me, though, because I wasn’t the Damari Roberson that everyone knows me by now.”

Now, Roberson has a long road to recovery ahead of him, but he said he ready to take on that challenge if it means being able to run back onto the football field and basketball court for his senior year.

For a few weeks after his surgery, he had to use crutches for his mobility as he was unable to put much pressure on his healing leg.

“It’s going to take six months for my knee to fully heal, and every month reduces my chances of re-tearing it by fifty percent,” Roberson said. “I am also bracing myself for physical therapy because I heard it is going to be tough, but I am going to do what I have to do to ensure I heal as quick as possible to get back with my team.”

Despite being restricted to the sidelines of the field, Roberson continued to be an inspiration until the season ended with a district finals loss to Forest Hills Central.

“He found other ways to contribute,” Koziak said. “Whether that’s signaling in play calls or giving his teammates words of encouragement, he found his way of continuing to make an impact for his team.”

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