Describe a setback you have faced. How did you resolve it? How did the outcome affect you? If something similar happened in the future, how would you react?
Sports have dominated much of my life. Injuries have dominated my sporting life. By the end of eighth grade, my reputation was well established with my peers. When my class gave out end of year awards, I failed to win any of the usual categories: Most Athletic, Prettiest Eyes, Most Congenial. Instead, a whole new category was created for me: Always Injured. I spent more time on crutches during my teenage years than I did on my feet.
Growing up, I spent many summers sprinting from morning swim practice to afternoon tennis lessons to late afternoon basketball practice and finally back to evening swim meets. Autumns were devoted to soccer and cross-country, winters focused on playing basketball, and spring combined soccer with track and field. Given my schedule, injuries developed quickly and often. A knee injury terminated one track and soccer season simultaneously, before they had begun. Following several months of physical therapy, I stood healthy and eager to return to both, only to break my ankle two weeks later. It was not exactly the welcome return I had been looking for. Not wanting to miss another season of sports, I attempted to play soccer on my broken ankle, apparently thinking that if I ignored the pain it would disappear. It did not. For the next few months, the most action I got was raising my crutches up to cheer from the sidelines.
Although the injuries were painful, the feeling of not being able to participate in sports I loved felt much worse. Game after game, I sat on the sidelines, cheering on my teammates and desperately thinking, "That should be me!" Eventually, I was able to return to practice. However, I only managed to sneak in two basketball games before a hip injury forced me to the sidelines. The physical therapists groaned when I hobbled back into the building, wondering how I could possibly be back so soon. During countless months of rehabilitation, I again grew desperate for athletic activity. I practiced running with my arms in my school desk, dribbled basketballs in circles around my wheelchair, and held crutch races through my living room. If crutch races were an Olympic event, I would have won a gold medal, though I probably would have tripped and fallen climbing the podium to receive it.
By April of my junior year, I remained incapacitated by injuries and low in spirits. Many individuals suggested that I sit out another track season, a task I could not do. I started slowly, often only able to complete a quarter of practice. Bikram yoga coupled with chiropractic maneuvers became part of my daily practice routine. I performed terribly in my first few races, clocking slower times than ever before. Frustration overcame me as teammates I had previously been able to beat were surpassing me in the 300-meter hurdles.
My coaches, doctors, and family remained convinced that I should not run. However, I had to prove to myself that I could do it. Week by week I kept trying. Toward the closing stages of the season, I was almost able to complete a full practice without pain. While kneeling in the starting block at the Regional Finals, I realized that my opportunity was now or never. I put all the pain and rehabilitation behind me and ran the fastest 300-meter hurdles of my life. Two weeks later I stood on the podium at the State Finals. Determination and perseverance allowed me to surmount my injury saddled sports career. I have accepted the fact that I will probably gather a few more injuries before the end of my high school sports life. What I have not accepted is failure. I now understand that no matter how big my obstacle may be, it can always be overcome.
A strong and well-written essay that could do without the two choppy, obvious sentences at the beginning. Or you could make them parallel for a witty tone. "Sports have dominated much of my life. Injuries have dominated many of my sports." Ehhh, if only life didn't imply length of time, it could be quantified like sports...
I am a little concerned about what this whole experience says about you, though. I know spraining a joint or two here and there, and tearing a tendon every once in a while, is like a war wound to you athletes. But the number of times you mention suffering these major injuries may indicate poor judgment on your part. I can see myself asking, if I were a college reader, "Wouldn't this kid have played *more* on the field if he hadn't broken so much stuff trying to play more?"
Right, your judgment in going against doctor's orders might also be questioned. I know that this story fits into the "athlete as hero persisting against all odds" category and that this is why it appeals to you. But it feels trite to me. Perhaps that's because there's very little feeling in it, just a recitation of not particularly fascinating facts. We've all heard this story before. Make it come alive by sharing more details that bring you and your personality into the picture.