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college essay sports injury

How and When to Talk About a Sports Injury in Your College Essay

college essay sports injury

You’ve come up with the perfect essay topic: that sports injury that changed your life. Not only is it a compelling story, but it can also serve as a great metaphor for a larger life experience.

Unfortunately, many other students have the same idea. Sports injuries—and sports in general—are hugely popular topics for college essays. Students often feel compelled to discuss a single moment or event that changed or influenced their lives in these essays, and because so many high schoolers participate in athletics, quite a few have had similar experiences that fit this bill. As young people, college applicants generally have less life experience, so they may not have experienced many other events that affected them on a grand scale.

A sports injury can evoke a lot of emotions—pain and disappointment, to name a few. Recovering from your injury, and describing that recovery, can demonstrate determination, hard work, bravery, perseverance in the face of obstacles, and many other admirable qualities. It’s a natural topic to choose.

But because so many applicants have the same idea, you may not stand out to the admissions committee if you choose to write about a sports injury—and standing out in a large pool of applicants is essential.

Why Should You Generally Avoid Sports Injuries in Essays?

It may seem counterintuitive, but your essay isn’t just a space to talk about yourself. It’s also a tool you use to present yourself to admissions committees, so you need to think strategically. You’re competing against a vast pool of candidates for admission, and many of them have stellar grades and test scores. You need to find a way to stand out . While some other parts of your application are dedicated to your stats, your essay is a place to let your personality shine.

Clichés are not going to help your case. If you use one in your essay, it puts a damper on the whole work. It’s not going to be compelling or engaging if admissions officers have read similar stories many times before.

Creativity and originality are essential for admissions committees; they want to attract students who think innovatively and will develop new ideas, not students who just dutifully follow directions. Think about it: colleges want students who will be leaders in society and ultimately make them look good. Check out Ten Skills to Highlight in Your College Applications to learn more about characteristics colleges are looking for in applicants.

Realistically, most high school athletes won’t go on to play professionally . That’s why you need to hone some skills outside of sports. ( Extracurricular Activities for Student Athletes has some ideas to help you.) It’s also why you should try to discuss topics that are more relevant to your future career or intended major.

That doesn’t mean you must avoid discussing your injury altogether. It’s fine to mention it in your essay or other parts of your application—in fact, you may need to do so to provide context or explain a change of direction—but generally, you shouldn’t use it as your main essay topic.

What if You Really, Really Want to Use this Topic?

If you feel like it’s imperative to highlight your sports injury in your essay, you MUST be creative! Using a topic that’s a bit of a cliché is a huge risk, so you’d better make sure you have something unique to say about it. You also need to be specific. An essay about a general-sounding situation filled with platitudes about life lessons you’ve learned won’t be compelling.

You’re more likely to stand out if your situation is unusual in some way. For instance, if you play a lesser-known or less popular sport such as fencing, you have a better chance of standing out. You may also have a unique spin if you were truly a world-class competitor—we’re talking national teams or Olympic-level here.

Make sure your personality really comes through, and make your essay as personal as possible. Incorporate other topics that are important to you and show who you truly are. For instance, you might discuss how the sport you played is a significant part of your family or cultural history, or how a person you met while playing that sport is important to you.

Your essay must be thoughtful, and you’ll need to demonstrate a deeper interpretation of what this injury meant to you and your life. Don’t just make it a play-by-play account of what happened.

You should also avoid topics that are too controversial. For example, don’t use your injury to wax poetic on your political position , and leave out excessively graphic or gory descriptions of your injury. In other words, don’t make the admissions committee cringe. (That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be descriptive, though!) Also avoid playing the blame game. If you think your injury was someone else’s fault, such as a player on the opposing team, your essay is not a place to point fingers. If you do, you’ll risk coming off as immature and unwilling to accept responsibility for yourself.

Your essay should fit in with the overall picture you paint with your application; colleges want to see a cohesive representation of you and your passions, rather than a disparate jumble of facts. As always, you should demonstrate strong skills in written communication. Proofread, check for typos, ask others to read your essay , and otherwise take time to perfect it well before you hit submit.

For More Information

Your essay is an important piece of your college application. It’s a place where you can really convey your personality and passions to admissions committees. Make at as unique as possible, so you can really stand out. Even if you’re not a natural writer, there are still ways to craft a stellar essay. For more help, check out the posts below.

How to Develop a Personalized Metaphor for Your Applications

How to Come Up With an Idea for a Personal Statement

Where to Begin? 3 Personal Essay Brainstorming Exercises

What If I Don’t Have Anything Interesting To Write About In My College Essay?

How to Get the Perfect Hook for Your College Essay

Want help with your college essays to improve your admissions chances? Sign up for your free CollegeVine account and get access to our essay guides and courses. You can also get your essay peer-reviewed and improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays.

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  • The psychological response to injury in student athletes: a narrative review with a focus on mental health
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  • Margot Putukian 1 , 2
  • 1 Department of Athletic Medicine , University Health Services, Princeton University , Princeton, New Jersey , USA
  • 2 Rutgers—Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, University Health Services, Princeton University , Princeton, New Jersey , USA
  • Correspondence to Dr Margot Putukian, Department of Athletic Medicine, University Health Services, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08540, USA; putukian{at}Princeton.edu

Background Injury is a major stressor for athletes and one that can pose significant challenges. Student athletes must handle rigorous academic as well as athletic demands that require time as well as significant physical requirements. Trying to perform and succeed in the classroom and on the playing field has become more difficult as the demands and expectations have increased. If an athlete is injured, these stressors increase.

Main thesis Stress is an important antecedent to injuries and can play a role in the response to, rehabilitation and return to play after injury. The psychological response to injury can trigger and/or unmask mental health issues including depression and suicidal ideation, anxiety, disordered eating, and substance use/abuse. There are barriers to mental health treatment in athletes. They often consider seeking help as a sign of weakness, feeling that they should be able to ‘push through’ psychological obstacles as they do physical ones. Athletes may not have developed healthy coping behaviours making response to injury especially challenging.

Purpose I discuss the current state of knowledge regarding the psychological response to injury and delineate resources necessary to direct the injured athlete to a mental health care provider if appropriate.


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Whether participation in sport is protective or harmful to mental health remains unclear. Though exercise and participation in sport is generally favourable, improving mood and self-esteem, at the extremes of exercise we see increased stress and burnout and the potential for adverse effects. 1–5 Growing research is dedicated to understanding the relationship between exercise and mental health disorders 1 as well as to chronic stress and mental health. 6 Mental health concerns such as eating disorders, depression and suicide, anxiety, gambling and substance use are among the most important in college-aged students, both athletes and non-athletes. 7–12 Some data exist that certain concerns, such as performance anxiety, eating disorders and binge drinking may be more common in athletes than their non-athletic peers. 13–15 Symptoms of depression are not uncommon in athletes 16 , 17 and in one study symptoms were reported in 21% of collegiate athletes with women, freshman and those that self-reported pain had a significantly increased risk for reporting depressive symptoms. 16 Depression in some athletes may also be related with performance failure, and elite athletes may be at a greater risk for depression than less elite athletes. 18

Injuries: antecedents and the emotional response

Injuries are common in athletes and the psychological response to injury can include normal as well as problematic responses,. 19–22 Preinjury factors, including biological, physical, psychological sociocultural, and most importantly stress, can increase an athlete's risk of injury and poor recovery. 19–23 After injury, several factors such as cognition, affect and behaviour are all inter-related and can also affect each other in the short and long term. 21

Stress can cause attentional changes, distraction and increased self-consciousness that all can interfere with performance and predispose an athlete to injury. 20 , 21 , 24 , 25 Chronic stress increases hair cortisol levels in a wide range of contexts/situations such as endurance athletes and pain as well as in patients with major depression. 6 Stress increases muscle tension and coordination that can increase the risk for injury; decreasing stress can actually decrease injury and illness rates. 20 , 24 , 26 , 27

Adolescents who have ‘high mental toughness’ were more resilient to stress and reported a lower number of depressive symptoms. 28 Adolescents with higher ‘resilience’ scores predicted lower scores on levels of depression, anxiety, stress and obsessive-compulsive symptoms after controlling for age and sex. 29 This underscores the importance of identifying which stressors apply to student athletes in general as well as which are at play in individual athlete and are modifiable. These data also emphasise the importance of considering stress reduction techniques in an attempt to decrease the risk for injury and improve performance.

Emotional response to injury (modified from American College of Sports Medicine et al 20 )

Lack of motivation


Changes in appetite

Sleep disturbance


Athletes differ in their response to injury. The response to injury extends from the time immediately after injury through to the postinjury phase and then rehabilitation and ultimately with return to activity. For the majority of injuries and illness return to preinjury levels of activity occur. With more serious illness or injury, a career ending injury is possible, and the health care provider should be prepared to address these issues. The Team Physician is ultimately responsible for the return to play decision and addressing psychological issues is a very important component of this decision. 33 , 34

Injuries: problematic responses

Problematic emotional reactions (modified from american college of sports medicine et al 20 ).

Persistent symptoms

Alterations of appetite


Worsening symptoms

Alterations of appetite leading to disordered eating

Sadness leading to depression

Lack of motivation leading to apathy

Disengagement leading to alienation

Excessive symptoms

Pain behaviours

Excessive anger or rage

Frequent crying or emotional outbursts

Substance abuse

Examples of problematic reactions include injured athletes who restrict their caloric intake because they feel since they are injured they ‘don't deserve’ to eat, with the restrictive eating then triggering disordered eating. In an athlete already at risk for disordered eating patterns and eating disorders, injury can increase the vulnerability to this problematic response.

Another problematic response to injury is depression. It can be a significant warning sign as it can magnify other responses and can also impact recovery from injury.

Substance use and abuse is a common problematic response and different substances are often used as a method of modulating emotions. For example; cocaine is used to provide stimulation and modify depression, and alcohol is often used to counter mania. Alcohol as well as other recreational drugs or prescription narcotics are often used to self-medicate in an attempt to improve mood in depression.

Gambling and legal problems or fighting are also problematic responses that occur in student athletes, and it is important to understand that it is not infrequent to have several problematic responses occurring concurrently, such as alcohol abuse and depression, depression and eating disorders and alcohol and fighting. 10–13 , 15–18 , 20 , 36

In a review of depression and alcohol use in 262 collegiate athletes, 36 21% reported high alcohol use and problems associated with alcohol. There was a correlation between self-reported symptoms of depression and alcohol abuse. Those athletes with severe depression and psychological symptoms had a significantly greater rate of alcohol abuse than those with low depression and low psychological symptoms. Furthermore, in a review of five collegiate athletes who completed suicide, common factors included (1) considerable success before injury, (2) serious injury requiring surgery (3) long rehabilitation with restriction from play (4) inability to return to the prior level of play and (5) being replaced in their position by a teammate. 37 Of these the greatest predictor was the severity of injury. Other risk factors, such as stressful life events (including injury), chronic mental illness, personality traits with maladjustment, family history of suicidal tendency and psychiatric disorder /other issues (eg, homosexuality, drug use, previous suicide attempts, chronic low self-esteem) were overlapping risk factors.

After a significant time loss injury, athletes can suffer physically as well as emotionally with a decrease in quality of life measures. 38 , 39 The emotional response to an ACL injury can be more significant than that experienced after concussion. 40 When Olympic skier Picabo Street sustained significant leg and knee injuries in March of 1998, she battled significant depression during her recovery. She stated “I went through a huge depression. I went all the way to rock bottom. I never thought that I would ever experience anything like that in my life. I think it was a combination of the atrophying of my legs, the new scars, and feeling like a caged animal”. 41 She ultimately received treatment and returned to skiing before retiring. Kenny McKinley played as a wide receiver professionally for the Denver Broncos Football team. He was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in September of 2010, after growing despondent after a knee injury. He had undergone surgery expected to sideline for a season and had made statements about being unsure what he would do without football and reportedly sharing thoughts that he should kill himself. 41 These case examples demonstrate how injury can often trigger significant depression and suicidal ideation.

Concussion can be particularly challenging for student athletes to handle emotionally, increasingly common in a variety of contact and collision sports; an injury that is occasionally associated with significant time loss or retirement from sport. 42–46 For the athlete with a severe knee injury, such as an ACL tear requiring surgery, one can often provide a predictable timeline and modified exercise (swimming or biking) options early in recovery. Concussion is difficult because a discrete timeline for recovery and return to play is unknown. In addition, the initial management of concussion includes cognitive and physical rest and the latter is something that many athletes often depend on to handle stressors. They are not able to exercise, and given the emotional and cognitive symptoms associated with concussion, often also struggle with academics as well as the emotional response to injury. In addition, depression and anxiety are felt to be modifiers of concussive injury, further prolonging recovery from injury. 43 , 47 There is limited data to suggest an increased incidence of depression in athletes with a higher history of self-reported concussion. 48 , 49 For the concussed athlete it is especially important to watch for problematic response from injury as well as understand the resources for treatment. Finally, with the recent description of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), with as of yet significantly more unknown than known, 50–52 athletes are often concerned that they may develop CTE even after a mild concussive injury. This fear for what might occur in the future amplifies the importance of recognising and managing concussive injury and addressing these concerns.

Obstacles to seeking care

There are several obstacles to seeking care for mental health issues in athletes. It is important to understand that athletes are less likely to seek help for mental health issues than non-athletes. 53 , 54 For college mental health service providers it is also important to understand that student athletes are often a unique population with specific obstacles to seeking care. Accessibility is important often there is a ‘teaching moment’ where getting an athlete to consider treatment can be challenging and therefore expediting an evaluation can be essential. It is also important to realise that privacy issues can be different; coaches, athletic trainers and team physicians often play an important role in the support network for the athlete. Including these providers in the discussion of significant issues can be helpful in providing care to the athlete.

Athletes may be at greater risk for mental health issues in that they are less likely to seek treatment, may be afraid to reveal symptoms, may see seeking counselling as a sign of weakness, are accustomed to working through pain, may have a sense of entitlement and never had to struggle, and/or may not have developed healthy coping mechanisms to deal with failure. In addition, many athletes have not developed their identity outside of that as an athlete and therefore if this role is threatened by injury or illness, they may experience a significant ‘loss’. As discussed previously, exercise is often an escape or coping mechanism for many athletes, so if injury occurs and they cannot exercise, it can result in a problematic response.

Barriers and facilitators to help seeking (modified from Gulliver et al 54 )

Barriers (ranked from most common to least, top to bottom)

Lack of problem awareness

Difficulty in or not willing to express emotion

Lack of time

Denial of problem

Not sure who to ask for help

Fear of what might happen

Worried about affecting ability to play / train

Belief that it would not help

Not accessible


Education and awareness of mental health issues and/or services

Social support

Encouragement from others

Accessibility (eg, money, transport, location)

Positive relationship with service staff


Integration into athlete life

Positive past experiences

Ease of expressing emotion and openness

Facilitating treatment and support

As an athletic trainer, team physician or other healthcare provider, it is important to recognise the common signs and symptoms for various mental health concerns and understand the resources available for treatment and management. 55–59 It is a responsibility of the athletic trainer and team physician to do everything possible to ‘demystify’ mental health concerns and help athletes understand that mental health concerns are as important to recognise and treat as other medical and musculoskeletal issues. Underscoring the availability of athletic medicine staffs to provide early referral and management of mental health concerns is essential.

Also essential is a basic understanding of what measures can make a difference in terms of treating mental health concerns as well as improving general wellness and performance. 20 , 55–59 Treatment that can improve resilience and mental toughness can be expected to help mitigate stress and potentially minimise depressive symptoms. 28 , 29 A systematic review evaluated 983 athletes and 15 psychological factors identified that three psychological elements (self-determination theory-autonomy, competence and relatedness) as the factors most important in positive rehabilitation and return to preinjury level of play. 34 In addition, another study demonstrated that there may be a role for internet-based interventions in demystifying mental health issues and providing education regarding common signs and symptoms as well as the benefits for seeking help. 53

It is important for coaches, athletic trainers and team physicians to provide support for injured athletes and keep athletes involved and part of the team. This might include keeping athletes engaged and encouraging athletes to seek help instead of ‘tough it out’. For coaches one of the most powerful actions is to ‘give the athlete permission’ and encourage them to seek care. 53 , 54 Having programmes available to educate athletes as well as athletic medicine and administrative staffs regarding the resources available and the importance of collaborative programming is helpful in providing care. 20 , 21 , 55–58 , 60–62

Including screening questions during the preparticipation examination and interim physicals performed at the high school and college level that address mental health concerns is an opportunity to detect issues early. 55–57 Considering more comprehensive questionnaires such as the Generalized Anxiety Disorder screen (GAD-7) 63 and the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) 64 as a screen for anxiety and depression, respectively, may be useful at baseline as well as during return to activity. 65 In addition, by including these measures as part of the sports physical, it can normalise mental health issues as important and potentially decrease the stigma for discussing these issues.

Future directions/conclusions

Injury is a stressor that has physical as well as psychological responses. The psychological response to injury is important and although emotional responses to injury are common, problematic responses can be those that are persistent, worsen or appear excessive. At times, problematic responses can trigger more serious mental health issues including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance use.

There are obstacles to treatment of mental health concerns in athletes, and athletic trainers, team physicians and other healthcare providers play an essential role in recognising and identifying athletes at risk for mental health concerns. Having a comprehensive plan in place to screen for, detect and manage student athletes with problematic response to injury is important. Several positive coping mechanisms and interventions can help to manage the student athlete with problematic responses. Understanding the mental health resources available, making timely referrals, and providing support for help-seeking behaviours are essential for the sports medicine team.

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Contributors This article was planned and completed by the sole author, MP.

Competing interests None declared.

Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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College Essay: Overcoming Injury

It’s my freshman year at one of my soccer games, the crowd roaring loudly. Sweat is rolling down my face while my eyes stay on the ball. The opposing team comes running through our players. With the ball right in front, I see an opportunity to take the ball, so I run for it.

“POP!” I hear a noise coming from my leg. I drop on the floor unable to move. The crowd continues to roar, yet I cannot hear a single thing. The whistle blows loudly. Everyone becomes still, and all eyes go on me. My mom and coach rush to me. They bring me to the sidelines. Tears fill my eyes while I can’t move my leg. I think it will go away eventually, but I am very wrong. This is just the beginning.

Neyeli Morocho Guachichulca

At the hospital I found out I tore my ACL and would need surgery, a new experience for me. When I was there, I found it fun and exciting, which seems strange since I thought I would be anxious. Except I enjoyed it because I want to be like those doctors one day.

Once my surgery was done I couldn’t feel anything. It hit me later; the pain was unbelievable. Doing normal things like going to the bathroom and taking showers was hard, and playing soccer would be impossible.

A week or two later, I managed to take my first few steps on my own. I felt really proud of myself since earlier that week I was depending on my parents for mobility. Eventually I was able to do more things on my own. Still, I had to wear my cast and use my crutches since I needed to get stronger for it to be safe.

During all of this I needed to be consistent with doing exercises. It was hard to do them, but I wanted to get better because I wanted to be able to play again. Soon enough, I came back to school. Wearing my cast and walking to class with crutches was the worst. I hated having to be careful and cautious all the time. But that’s another thing I got from this experience — being afraid. Being afraid of having to go through all of this again.

Going to weekly physical therapy really helped me. They gave me reas- surance that if I work hard enough I’ll be better in no time. Except if I worked even harder, I would be able to go back to playing sports in about a year. This is the mentality I keep while going through this. I am pushing myself to get better.

At the beginning of this, I felt very sad and discouraged. Nonetheless, I have learned how to have a more positive mindset. During my workouts my leg would be in pain, but I would tell myself “keep going,” “finish your set,” “you’re almost done,” which encouraged me and reminded me of how important it was to play again.

Memories of playing made me feel warm inside and eager to return. When I was younger, my dad would teach me how to play. He would pass me the ball and I would pass it back sideways. Even though I wasn’t good, I would always have fun. Soccer had an impact on my childhood, which plays a big role in my identity today.

I am currently doing great and close to being able to play again. I still haven’t hit the year mark, but a lot of progress has happened. Being injured while playing soccer made it more real to me. Having this surgery also showed me how important medicine can be, since now I have less knee risks in the future. From the surgeons who helped me to the nurses who prepared me, I became inspired to pursue my future career in medicine.

college essay sports injury

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Admissions Officers Discuss 3 Common Essay Topics

A college essay topic doesn't have to be unique to be a good choice for applicants, experts say.

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Admissions officers look at much more than the topic students select when assessing college essays.

Grades and test scores may measure a student's academic potential, but those factors fail to capture his or her personality. That's where the college essay comes in. The college essay offers students the chance to tell their own story to admissions officials.

How important is the college essay? It ranked as the fifth most important factor in the admissions process in a 2019 National Association for College Admission Counseling survey. The essay followed other factors: high school GPA , grades in college prep courses, strength of curriculum at a student's high school, and SAT and ACT scores.

High school students may worry about not having an original topic for their college essay – that anything they write about will be something admissions officers have read countless times before.

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But admissions deans and directors from several colleges told U.S. News that it's OK if applicants write about a common subject.

"Overuse of a topic doesn't make it a bad topic," says Whitney Soule, senior vice president and dean of admissions and student aid at Bowdoin College in Maine.

How common an essay topic is matters less than a student's ability to express something significant about himself or herself.

"It's not just about the topic, but why it's important to you and how you can showcase who you are as a student and an individual through that topic," says Jennifer Gayles, director of admission and coordinator of multicultural recruitment at Sarah Lawrence College in New York.

Here are three examples of common college application essay topics that admissions officials say are fine for students to write about as long as they do so thoughtfully.

The Big Game Essay

Many high school students play sports, so it's understandable that athletics comes up fairly often in college essays.

One potential pitfall of a sports-focused essay is that students spend too much time describing what happened in the game, meet or competition and not enough time on how it affected them personally, some experts say.

Laura Stratton, director of admission at Scripps College in California, says she remembers reading a well-written sports essay in which the author wrote about being benched. The student was a senior and had played throughout the season, but she found herself on the sideline during the final game.

"The self-awareness the student showed of being a good team member and showing up for her teammates and continuing to be positive even though it wasn't the personal experience that she wanted to have, it said a lot about her character and about the type of roommate she would be or classmate she would be," Stratton says, "and that landed really well with the readers."

It's also fairly common for students to write about a sports-related injury in response to a college essay prompt about overcoming a challenge or failure, says Christoph Guttentag, dean of undergraduate admissions at Duke University in North Carolina. One of the 2019-2020 essay prompts for The Common Application – an application platform that allows students to submit their materials, including the essay, to multiple colleges at once – focuses on overcoming obstacles, according to the platform's website.

"If that's what has really mattered to the student, if that's something that has generated a lot of thought on their part, then I think it's a great essay topic," Guttentag says.

Essays That Focus on Service-Based Activities

College essays about service to others, either at home or abroad, can be moving to read but difficult to effectively write, given the short amount of space students are allotted for a college essay, some experts say. The Common App essay is limited to 650 words, for example.

"The idea of other people who are less advantaged being used as the vehicle for someone's increased self-awareness is how that can come across sometimes," Guttentag says, "and I think that can be difficult to pull off."

A student's motivation for choosing this topic also matters. If applicants decide to write about service, they should do so because their experience has led to thought and reflection, not because they feel like this is a topic admissions officers expect them to write about, Guttentag says.

Essays That Focus on a Meaningful Relationship

Students don't have to write about a major turning point in their essay, Soule says. They can instead reflect on something from their day-to-day life that they find meaningful. For some students, this may mean writing about a relationship with a parent, grandparent or other key figure in their life.

"I think that those can be great essays if the student is keeping top of mind that at the end of the essay we should know something about them as a person and how that relationship has affected and shaped them," Stratton says, "not just the great things about their grandma."

For example, Soule says she remembers a strong essay in which a student wrote about being a sibling. The student talked about what his relationship with his younger brother was like at different points throughout his life.

There wasn't any big, dramatic moment that the story hinged on, Soule says. The essay just reflected on how the student and his brother had grown up and evolved in relation to one another.

"That was really personal," Soule says, "and it also demonstrated a person who could see himself in relationship to other people, which is a hugely important quality, particularly when we're building a community of people who are going to be living together and learning together."

While students may ask themselves, "How important are college essays?" the answer is simple: important enough for college admissions that they should invest the time and effort to do their best and make the topic their own – even if it's common.

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Mind, Body and Sport: How being injured affects mental health

An excerpt from the Sport Science Institute’s guide to understanding and supporting student-athlete mental wellness

By Margot Putukian

Injuries, while hopefully infrequent, are often an unavoidable part of sport participation. While most injuries can be managed with little to no disruption in sport participation and other activities of daily living, some impose a substantial physical and mental burden. For some student-athletes, the psychological response to injury can trigger or unmask serious mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, disordered eating, and substance use or abuse.

When a student-athlete is injured, there is a normal emotional reaction that includes processing the medical information about the injury provided by the medical team, as well as coping emotionally with the injury.  

Those emotional responses include:

  • Lack of motivation
  • Frustration
  • Changes in appetite
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Disengagement

How student-athletes respond to injury may differ, and there is no predictable sequence or reaction. The response to injury extends from the time immediately after injury through to the post-injury phase and then rehabilitation and ultimately with return to activity. For most injuries, the student-athlete is able to return to pre-injury levels of activity. In more serious cases, however, a student-athlete’s playing career may be at stake, and the health care provider should be prepared to address these issues. The team physician is ultimately responsible for the return-to-play decision, and addressing psychological issues is a significant component of this decision.

It’s important for athletic trainers and team physicians, as well as student-athletes, coaches and administrators, to understand that emotional reactions to injury are normal. However, problematic reactions are those that either do not resolve or worsen over time, or where the severity of symptoms seem excessive. Examples of problematic emotional reactions are in the accompanying table.

One problematic reaction is when injured student-athletes restrict their caloric intake because they feel that since they are injured, they “don’t deserve” to eat. Such a reaction can be a trigger for disordered eating. When a student-athlete is already at risk for disordered eating, this problematic reaction only heightens the likelihood these unhealthy behaviors will worsen.   

Another problematic response to injury is depression, which magnifies other responses and can also impact recovery. Depression in some student-athletes may also be related to performance failure. When student-athletes sustain significant injuries, such as knee injuries associated with time loss from sport, they can suffer both physically as well as emotionally with a decrease in their quality of life. When Olympic skier Picabo Street sustained significant leg and knee injuries in March 1998, she battled significant depression during her recovery. She stated: “I went all the way to rock bottom. I never thought I would ever experience anything like that in my life. It was a combination of the atrophying of my legs, the new scars, and feeling like a caged animal.” Street ultimately received treatment and returned to skiing before retiring.  

Kenny McKinley, a wide receiver for the Denver Broncos, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in September 2010 after growing despondent following a knee injury. He had undergone surgery and was expected to be sidelined for the entire season. He had apparently made statements about being unsure what he’d do without football and began sharing thoughts of suicide.

These case examples demonstrate how injury can trigger significant depression and suicidal ideation.

Concussion is another injury that can be very challenging for student-athletes to handle emotionally. An injury like an ACL – while it poses a serious setback to the student-athlete – at least comes with a somewhat predictable timeline for rehabilitation and recovery. What makes concussion particularly difficult is that unlike most injuries, the timeline for recovery and return to play is unknown. With concussion, the initial period of treatment includes both cognitive and physical rest, which counters the rigorous exercise routine many student-athletes often depend on to handle stressors. Given the emotional and cognitive symptoms associated with concussion, student-athletes often struggle with their academic demands. In addition, compared with some injuries where a student-athlete is on crutches, in a sling, or obviously disabled in some way, with the concussed student-athlete, he or she “looks normal,” making it even more challenging to feel validated in being out of practice or play.

For the student-athlete with concussion, it is especially important – and difficult – to watch for problematic psychological responses to the injury. Some student-athletes experience emotional symptoms as a direct result of the brain trauma that can include feeling sad or irritable. If these symptoms don’t seem to be going away it is important to explore whether they might be related to a mental health issue such as depression and not directly to the injury itself. In some cases, the psychological reaction to the concussion – rather than the concussion itself – can be the trigger for the depression. When this is the case, simply waiting for the brain to recover isn’t enough: the depression also needs to be treated.

It is also important to be aware that with increasing media attention being paid to neurodegenerative diseases such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) among professional athletes, some student-athletes might fear that even the mildest concussive injury will make them susceptible to these highly distressing outcomes. Though there is very little known about what causes CTE or what the true incidence of CTE is, the concern for possibly developing permanent neurodegenerative disease can be paralyzing. Athletic trainers and team physicians can help educate injured student-athletes about the known risks associated with concussions and can help them focus on managing the injury in the present. They should also be aware that student-athletes who are expressing a high level of anxiety could be experiencing a mental health condition that requires treatment by a mental health professional.

Seeking treatment

Injured student-athletes who are having a problematic psychological response to injury may be reticent to seek treatment. They may be afraid to reveal their symptoms, may see seeking counseling as a sign of weakness, may be accustomed to working through pain, may have a sense of entitlement and never had to struggle, and may not have developed healthy coping mechanisms to deal with failure. In addition, many student-athletes have not developed their identity outside of that as an athlete. Thus, if this role is threatened by injury or illness, they may experience a significant “loss.” Getting a student-athlete to consider treatment can be challenging (and it is complicated by privacy issues), so coaches, athletic trainers and team physicians as the support network for the student-athlete should work together to provide quality care.

As an athletic trainer or team physician, it’s important to be aware of common signs and symptoms for various mental health issues and understand the resources available to treat them. Those personnel also must do everything possible to “demystify” mental health issues and allow student-athletes to understand that symptoms of mental health issues are as important to recognize and treat as symptoms for other medical issues and musculoskeletal issues. Underscoring the availability of sports medicine staffs to provide for early referral and management of mental health issues is essential.

It’s also important for coaches, athletic trainers and team physicians to support injured student-athletes and do what they can to keep athletes involved and part of the team. This might include keeping student-athletes engaged, and at the same time encouraging them to seek help and not try to “tough their way through” situations that include mental health factors.

For coaches, one of the most powerful actions is to “give the student-athlete permission“ to seek treatment (see Mark Potter’s article in Chapter 1 emphasizing this notion). This is often incredibly helpful in encouraging student-athletes to seek care. Having programs available to educate student-athletes as well as sports medicine and administrative staffs regarding the resources available and the importance of collaborative programming helps provide appropriate care.

It is important to understand the mental health resources available on each campus and consider both early referral as well as establishing multidisciplinary teams that include athletic trainers, team physicians, psychologists, psychiatrists and other health care providers to provide care for mental health issues in student-athletes. If this can be incorporated into the overall goal of optimizing performance, along with nutrition and strength and conditioning, it may be better received by student-athletes and coaches, thereby increasing the compliance with management and treatment.

Given all that is known about mental health issues in athletes – and the role of injury and the barriers to treatment – the bar is raised in terms of what athletic trainers and team physicians can do in the future. Having a comprehensive plan in place to screen for, detect and manage student-athletes with problematic response to injury is an important first step.

Margot Putukian is the director of athletic medicine and head team physician at Princeton University, where she is also an assistant director of medical services at University Health Services. She has an academic appointment as an associate clinical professor at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Putukian has a B.S. in biology from Yale University, where she participated in soccer and lacrosse, and an M.D. from Boston University. She completed her internship and residency in primary care internal medicine at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York, and her fellowship in sports medicine at Michigan State University. Putukian is a past president of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine. She currently works with US Soccer and US Lacrosse as a team physician, and several organizations advocating for health and safety issues, including the NCAA, the NFL, USA Football, the American College of Sports Medicine, US Soccer and US Lacrosse. She can be reached at [email protected].

Problematic emotional reactions

Persistent symptoms

  • Alterations of appetite
  • Irritability

Worsening symptoms

  • Alterations of appetite leading to disordered eating
  • Sadness leading to depression
  • Lack of motivation leading to apathy
  • Disengagement leading to alienation

Excessive symptoms

  • Verbal and nonverbal behaviors that indicate the individual is experiencing high levels of pain
  • Excessive anger or rage
  • Frequent crying or emotional outbursts
  • Substance abuse

Suggestions for coaches

  • Understand both common psychological responses to injury as well as problematic responses.
  • Communicate with athletic trainers and team physicians regarding injured student-athletes, and work to include the injured student-athlete in team functions and practice/competitions when possible.
  • Understand the mental health resources available to student-athletes as well as the role of athletic trainers and team physicians in expediting referrals. Be supportive of seeking care for mental health issues.

Suggestions for athletic trainers and team physicians

  • Understand the common psychological responses to injuries as well as the need for monitoring for problematic responses that can be triggered by injury.
  • Screen for underlying mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance use and gambling issues during the pre-participation physical as well as during the season.
  • Look for problematic psychological responses (those that do not resolve, worsen over time, or where the severity of symptoms seem excessive) in athletes during all aspects of injury (immediately after injury, post-injury, rehabilitation, return to play progression).
  • Understand the unique challenges of the psychological response to concussive injury given the individualized and often unclear timeline for recovery, the overlap of common post-concussive symptoms with mental health symptoms, and the increasing concern for the possibility of complications such as neurodegenerative disease and persistent post-concussive symptoms.
  • Understand the resources available and the importance of referral to a team physician and mental health care provider, using a team approach and “demystifying” the stigma often attached to seeking help for mental health issues.
  • Provide an environment of listening and empathy for athletes that may be experiencing mental health issues and provide referrals in a supportive manner.
  • Communicate with coaches regarding any problematic responses to injury that may occur and provide suggestions to keep injured athletes involved in team functions and practice/play activities.
  • Provide early referral to mental health providers for evaluation and management, and include mental health providers in management of injured athletes. Develop multidisciplinary teams that include athletic trainers, team physicians, psychologists and psychiatrists to collaborate and address mental health issues in athletes.
  • #Mental Health

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  • College Essay Examples | What Works and What Doesn’t

College Essay Examples | What Works and What Doesn't

Published on November 8, 2021 by Kirsten Courault . Revised on August 14, 2023.

One effective method for improving your college essay is to read example essays . Here are three sample essays, each with a bad and good version to help you improve your own essay.

Table of contents

Essay 1: sharing an identity or background through a montage, essay 2: overcoming a challenge, a sports injury narrative, essay 3: showing the influence of an important person or thing, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about college application essays.

This essay uses a montage structure to show snapshots of a student’s identity and background. The writer builds her essay around the theme of the five senses, sharing memories she associates with sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste.

In the weak rough draft, there is little connection between the individual anecdotes, and they do not robustly demonstrate the student’s qualities.

In the final version, the student uses an extended metaphor of a museum to create a strong connection among her stories, each showcasing a different part of her identity. She draws a specific personal insight from each memory and uses the stories to demonstrate her qualities and values.

How My Five Senses Record My Life

Throughout my life, I have kept a record of my life’s journey with my five senses. This collection of memories matters a great deal because I experience life every day through the lens of my identity.

“Chinese! Japanese!”

My classmate pulls one eye up and the other down.

“Look what my parents did to me!”

No matter how many times he repeats it, the other kids keep laughing. I focus my almond-shaped eyes on the ground, careful not to attract attention to my discomfort, anger, and shame. How could he say such a mean thing about me? What did I do to him? Joseph’s words would engrave themselves into my memory, making me question my appearance every time I saw my eyes in the mirror.

Soaking in overflowing bubble baths with Andrew Lloyd Webber belting from the boombox.

Listening to “Cell Block Tango” with my grandparents while eating filet mignon at a dine-in show in Ashland.

Singing “The Worst Pies in London” at a Korean karaoke club while laughing hysterically with my brother, who can do an eerily spot-on rendition of Sweeney Todd.

Taking car rides with Mom in the Toyota Sequoia as we compete to hit the high note in “Think of Me” from The Phantom of the Opera . Neither of us stands a chance!

The sweet scent of vegetables, Chinese noodles, and sushi wafts through the room as we sit around the table. My grandma presents a good-smelling mixture of international cuisine for our Thanksgiving feast. My favorite is the Chinese food that she cooks. Only the family prayer stands between me and the chance to indulge in these delicious morsels, comforting me with their familiar savory scents.

I rinse a faded plastic plate decorated by my younger sister at the Waterworks Art Center. I wear yellow rubber gloves to protect my hands at Mom’s insistence, but I can still feel the warm water that offers a bit of comfort as I finish the task at hand. The crusted casserole dish with stubborn remnants from my dad’s five-layer lasagna requires extra effort, so I fill it with Dawn and scalding water, setting it aside to soak. I actually don’t mind this daily chore.

I taste sweat on my upper lip as I fight to continue pedaling on a stationary bike. Ava’s next to me and tells me to go up a level. We’re biking buddies, dieting buddies, and Saturday morning carbo-load buddies. After the bike display hits 30 minutes, we do a five-minute cool down, drink Gatorade, and put our legs up to rest.

My five senses are always gathering new memories of my identity. I’m excited to expand my collection.

Word count: 455

College essay checklist

Topic and structure

  • I’ve selected a topic that’s meaningful to me.
  • My essay reveals something different from the rest of my application.
  • I have a clear and well-structured narrative.
  • I’ve concluded with an insight or a creative ending.

Writing style and tone

  • I’ve crafted an introduction containing vivid imagery or an intriguing hook that grabs the reader’s attention.
  • I’ve written my essay in a way that shows instead of tells.
  • I’ve used appropriate style and tone for a college essay.
  • I’ve used specific, vivid personal stories that would be hard to replicate.
  • I’ve demonstrated my positive traits and values in my essay.
  • My essay is focused on me, not another person or thing.
  • I’ve included self-reflection and insight in my essay.
  • I’ve respected the word count , remaining within 10% of the upper word limit.

Making Sense of My Identity

Welcome to The Rose Arimoto Museum. You are about to enter the “Making Sense of My Identity” collection. Allow me to guide you through select exhibits, carefully curated memories from Rose’s sensory experiences.

First, the Sight Exhibit.

“Chinese! Japanese!”

“Look what my parents did to me!”

No matter how many times he repeats it, the other kids keep laughing. I focus my almond-shaped eyes on the ground, careful not to attract attention as my lip trembles and palms sweat. Joseph couldn’t have known how his words would engrave themselves into my memory, making me question my appearance every time I saw my eyes in the mirror.

Ten years later, these same eyes now fixate on an InDesign layout sheet, searching for grammar errors while my friend Selena proofreads our feature piece on racial discrimination in our hometown. As we’re the school newspaper editors, our journalism teacher Ms. Riley allows us to stay until midnight to meet tomorrow’s deadline. She commends our work ethic, which for me is fueled by writing一my new weapon of choice.

Next, you’ll encounter the Sound Exhibit.

Still, the world is my Broadway as I find my voice on stage.

Just below, enter the Smell Exhibit.

While I help my Pau Pau prepare dinner, she divulges her recipe for cha siu bau, with its soft, pillowy white exterior hiding the fragrant filling of braised barbecue pork inside. The sweet scent of candied yams, fun see , and Spam musubi wafts through the room as we gather around our Thankgsiving feast. After our family prayer, we indulge in these delicious morsels until our bellies say stop. These savory scents of my family’s cultural heritage linger long after I’ve finished the last bite.

Next up, the Touch Exhibit.

I rinse a handmade mug that I had painstakingly molded and painted in ceramics class. I wear yellow rubber gloves to protect my hands at Mom’s insistence, but I can still feel the warm water that offers a bit of comfort as I finish the task at hand. The crusted casserole dish with stubborn remnants from my dad’s five-layer lasagna requires extra effort, so I fill it with Dawn and scalding water, setting it aside to soak. For a few fleeting moments, as I continue my nightly chore, the pressure of my weekend job, tomorrow’s calculus exam, and next week’s track meet are washed away.

Finally, we end with the Taste Exhibit.

My legs fight to keep pace with the stationary bike as the salty taste of sweat seeps into corners of my mouth. Ava challenges me to take it up a level. We always train together一even keeping each other accountable on our strict protein diet of chicken breasts, broccoli, and Muscle Milk. We occasionally splurge on Saturday mornings after interval training, relishing the decadence of everything bagels smeared with raspberry walnut cream cheese. But this is Wednesday, so I push myself. I know that once the digital display hits 30:00, we’ll allow our legs to relax into a five-minute cool down, followed by the fiery tang of Fruit Punch Gatorade to rehydrate.

Thank you for your attention. This completes our tour. I invite you to rejoin us for next fall’s College Experience collection, which will exhibit Rose’s continual search for identity and learning.

Word count: 649

  • I’ve crafted an essay introduction containing vivid imagery or an intriguing hook that grabs the reader’s attention.

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

This essay uses a narrative structure to recount how a student overcame a challenge, specifically a sports injury. Since this topic is often overused, the essay requires vivid description, a memorable introduction and conclusion , and interesting insight.

The weak rough draft contains an interesting narrative, insight, and vivid imagery, but it has an overly formal tone that distracts the reader from the story. The student’s use of elaborate vocabulary in every sentence makes the essay sound inauthentic and stilted.

The final essay uses a more natural, conversational tone and chooses words that are vivid and specific without being pretentious. This allows the reader to focus on the narrative and appreciate the student’s unique insight.

One fateful evening some months ago, a defensive linebacker mauled me, his 212 pounds indisputably alighting upon my ankle. Ergo, an abhorrent cracking of calcified tissue. At first light the next day, I awoke cognizant of a new paradigm—one sans football—promulgated by a stabbing sensation that would continue to haunt me every morning of this semester.

It’s been an exceedingly taxing semester not being able to engage in football, but I am nonetheless excelling in school. That twist of fate never would have come to pass if I hadn’t broken my ankle. I still limp down the halls at school, but I’m feeling less maudlin these days. My friends don’t steer clear anymore, and I have a lot more of them. My teachers, emboldened by my newfound interest in learning, continually invite me to learn more and do my best. Football is still on hold, but I feel like I’m finally playing a game that matters.

Five months ago, right after my ill-fated injury, my friends’ demeanor became icy and remote, although I couldn’t fathom why. My teachers, in contrast, beckoned me close and invited me on a new learning journey. But despite their indubitably kind advances, even they recoiled when I drew near.

A few weeks later, I started to change my attitude vis-à-vis my newfound situation and determined to put my energy toward productive ends (i.e., homework). I wasn’t enamored with school. I never had been. Nevertheless, I didn’t abhor it either. I just preferred football.

My true turn of fate came when I started studying more and participating in class. I started to enjoy history class, and I grew interested in reading more. I discovered a volume of poems written by a fellow adventurer on the road of life, and I loved it. I ravenously devoured everything in the writer’s oeuvre .

As the weeks flitted past, I found myself spending my time with a group of people who were quite different from me. They participated in theater and played instruments in marching band. They raised their hands in class when the teacher posed a question. Because of their auspicious influence, I started raising my hand too. I am no longer vapid, and I now have something to say.

I am certain that your school would benefit from my miraculous academic transformation, and I entreat you to consider my application to your fine institution. Accepting me to your university would be an unequivocally righteous decision.

Word count: 408

  • I’ve chosen a college essay topic that’s meaningful to me.
  • I’ve respected the essay word count , remaining within 10% of the upper word limit.

As I step out of bed, the pain shoots through my foot and up my leg like it has every morning since “the game.” That night, a defensive linebacker tackled me, his 212 pounds landing decidedly on my ankle. I heard the sound before I felt it. The next morning, I awoke to a new reality—one without football—announced by a stabbing sensation that would continue to haunt me every morning of this semester.

My broken ankle broke my spirit.

My friends steered clear of me as I hobbled down the halls at school. My teachers tried to find the delicate balance between giving me space and offering me help. I was as unsure how to deal with myself as they were.

In time, I figured out how to redirect some of my frustration, anger, and pent-up energy toward my studies. I had never not liked school, but I had never really liked it either. In my mind, football practice was my real-life classroom, where I could learn all I ever needed to know.

Then there was that day in Mrs. Brady’s history class. We sang a ridiculous-sounding mnemonic song to memorize all the Chinese dynasties from Shang to Qing. I mumbled the words at first, but I got caught up in the middle of the laughter and began singing along. Starting that day, I began browsing YouTube videos about history, curious to learn more. I had started learning something new, and, to my surprise, I liked it.

With my afternoons free from burpees and scrimmages, I dared to crack open a few more of my books to see what was in them. That’s when my English poetry book, Paint Me Like I Am , caught my attention. It was full of poems written by students my age from WritersCorps. I couldn’t get enough.

I wasn’t the only one who was taken with the poems. Previously, I’d only been vaguely aware of Christina as one of the weird kids I avoided. Crammed in the margins of her high-top Chuck Taylors were scribbled lines of her own poetry and infinite doodles. Beyond her punk rock persona was a sensitive artist, puppy-lover, and environmental activist that a wide receiver like me would have never noticed before.

With Christina, I started making friends with people who once would have been invisible to me: drama geeks, teachers’ pets, band nerds. Most were college bound but not to play a sport. They were smart and talented, and they cared about people and politics and all sorts of issues that I hadn’t considered before. Strangely, they also seemed to care about me.

I still limp down the halls at school, but I don’t seem to mind as much these days. My friends don’t steer clear anymore, and I have a lot more of them. My teachers, excited by my newfound interest in learning, continually invite me to learn more and do my best. Football is still on hold, but I feel like I’m finally playing a game that matters.

My broken ankle broke my spirit. Then, it broke my ignorance.

Word count: 512

This essay uses a narrative structure to show how a pet positively influenced the student’s values and character.

In the weak draft, the student doesn’t focus on himself, instead delving into too much detail about his dog’s positive traits and his grandma’s illness. The essay’s structure is meandering, with tangents and details that don’t communicate any specific insight.

In the improved version, the student keeps the focus on himself, not his pet. He chooses the most relevant stories to demonstrate specific qualities, and the structure more clearly builds up to an insightful conclusion.

Man’s Best Friend

I desperately wanted a cat. I begged my parents for one, but once again, my sisters overruled me, so we drove up the Thompson Valley Canyon from Loveland to Estes Park to meet our newest family member. My sisters had already hatched their master plan, complete with a Finding Nemo blanket to entice the pups. The blanket was a hit with all of them, except for one—the one who walked over and sat in my lap. That was the day that Francisco became a Villanova.

Maybe I should say he was mine because I got stuck with all the chores. As expected, my dog-loving sisters were nowhere to be found! My mom was “extra” with all the doggy gear. Cisco even had to wear these silly little puppy shoes outside so that when he came back in, he wouldn’t get the carpets dirty. If it was raining, my mother insisted I dress Cisco in a ridiculous yellow raincoat, but, in my opinion, it was an unnecessary source of humiliation for poor Cisco. It didn’t take long for Cisco to decide that his outerwear could be used as toys in a game of Keep Away. As soon as I took off one of his shoes, he would run away with it, hiding under the bed where I couldn’t reach him. But, he seemed to appreciate his ensemble more when we had to walk through snowdrifts to get his job done.

When my abuela was dying from cancer, we went in the middle of the night to see her before she passed. I was sad and scared. But, my dad let me take Cisco in the car, so Cisco cuddled with me and made me feel much better. It’s like he could read my mind. Once we arrived at the hospital, the fluorescent lighting made the entire scene seem unreal, as if I was watching the scene unfold through someone else’s eyes. My grandma lay calmly on her bed, smiling at us even through her last moments of pain. I disliked seeing the tubes and machines hooked up to her. It was unnatural to see her like this一it was so unlike the way I usually saw her beautiful in her flowery dress, whistling a Billie Holiday tune and baking snickerdoodle cookies in the kitchen. The hospital didn’t usually allow dogs, but they made a special exception to respect my grandma’s last wishes that the whole family be together. Cisco remained at the foot of the bed, intently watching abuela with a silence that seemed more effective at communicating comfort and compassion than the rest of us who attempted to offer up words of comfort that just seemed hollow and insincere. It was then that I truly appreciated Cisco’s empathy for others.

As I accompanied my dad to pick up our dry cleaner’s from Ms. Chapman, a family friend asked, “How’s Cisco?” before even asking about my sisters or me. Cisco is the Villanova family mascot, a Goldendoodle better recognized by strangers throughout Loveland than the individual members of my family.

On our summer trip to Boyd Lake State Park, we stayed at the Cottonwood campground for a breathtaking view of the lake. Cisco was allowed to come, but we had to keep him on a leash at all times. After a satisfying meal of fish, our entire family walked along the beach. Cisco and I led the way while my mom and sisters shuffled behind. Cisco always stopped and refused to move, looking back to make sure the others were still following. Once satisfied that everyone was together, he would turn back around and continue prancing with his golden boy curly locks waving in the chilly wind.

On the beach, Cisco “accidentally” got let off his leash and went running maniacally around the sand, unfettered and free. His pure joy as he raced through the sand made me forget about my AP Chem exam or my student council responsibilities. He brings a smile not only to my family members but everyone around him.

Cisco won’t live forever, but without words, he has impressed upon me life lessons of responsibility, compassion, loyalty, and joy. I can’t imagine life without him.

Word count: 701

I quickly figured out that as “the chosen one,” I had been enlisted by Cisco to oversee all aspects of his “business.” I learned to put on Cisco’s doggie shoes to keep the carpet clean before taking him out一no matter the weather. Soon after, Cisco decided that his shoes could be used as toys in a game of Keep Away. As soon as I removed one of his shoes, he would run away with it, hiding under the bed where I couldn’t reach him. But, he seemed to appreciate his footwear more after I’d gear him up and we’d tread through the snow for his daily walks.

One morning, it was 7:15 a.m., and Alejandro was late again to pick me up. “Cisco, you don’t think he overslept again, do you?” Cisco barked, as if saying, “Of course he did!” A text message would never do, so I called his dad, even if it was going to get him in trouble. There was no use in both of us getting another tardy during our first-period class, especially since I was ready on time after taking Cisco for his morning outing. Alejandro was mad at me but not too much. He knew I had helped him out, even if he had to endure his dad’s lecture on punctuality.

Another early morning, I heard my sister yell, “Mom! Where are my good ballet flats? I can’t find them anywhere!” I hesitated and then confessed, “I moved them.” She shrieked at me in disbelief, but I continued, “I put them in your closet, so Cisco wouldn’t chew them up.” More disbelief. However, this time, there was silence instead of shrieking.

Last spring, Cisco and I were fast asleep when the phone rang at midnight. Abuela would not make it through the night after a long year of chemo, but she was in Pueblo, almost three hours away. Sitting next to me for that long car ride on I-25 in pitch-black darkness, Cisco knew exactly what I needed and snuggled right next to me as I petted his coat in a rhythm while tears streamed down my face. The hospital didn’t usually allow dogs, but they made a special exception to respect my grandma’s last wishes that the whole family be together. Cisco remained sitting at the foot of the hospital bed, intently watching abuela with a silence that communicated more comfort than our hollow words. Since then, whenever I sense someone is upset, I sit in silence with them or listen to their words, just like Cisco did.

The other day, one of my friends told me, “You’re a strange one, Josue. You’re not like everybody else but in a good way.” I didn’t know what he meant at first. “You know, you’re super responsible and grown-up. You look out for us instead of yourself. Nobody else does that.” I was a bit surprised because I wasn’t trying to do anything different. I was just being me. But then I realized who had taught me: a fluffy little puppy who I had wished was a cat! I didn’t choose Cisco, but he certainly chose me and, unexpectedly, became my teacher, mentor, and friend.

Word count: 617

If you want to know more about academic writing , effective communication , or parts of speech , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

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A standout college essay has several key ingredients:

  • A unique, personally meaningful topic
  • A memorable introduction with vivid imagery or an intriguing hook
  • Specific stories and language that show instead of telling
  • Vulnerability that’s authentic but not aimed at soliciting sympathy
  • Clear writing in an appropriate style and tone
  • A conclusion that offers deep insight or a creative ending

There are no set rules for how to structure a college application essay , but these are two common structures that work:

  • A montage structure, a series of vignettes with a common theme.
  • A narrative structure, a single story that shows your personal growth or how you overcame a challenge.

Avoid the five-paragraph essay structure that you learned in high school.

Though admissions officers are interested in hearing your story, they’re also interested in how you tell it. An exceptionally written essay will differentiate you from other applicants, meaning that admissions officers will spend more time reading it.

You can use literary devices to catch your reader’s attention and enrich your storytelling; however, focus on using just a few devices well, rather than trying to use as many as possible.

Most importantly, your essay should be about you , not another person or thing. An insightful college admissions essay requires deep self-reflection, authenticity, and a balance between confidence and vulnerability.

Your essay shouldn’t be a résumé of your experiences but instead should tell a story that demonstrates your most important values and qualities.

When revising your college essay , first check for big-picture issues regarding message, flow, tone, style , and clarity. Then, focus on eliminating grammar and punctuation errors.

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Storm brewing in college basketball: Should fans be banned from rushing floor?

Injuries are part of the game — but Duke men's basketball coach Jon Scheyer takes issue when those bumps and bruises come after time expires and during stampedes of celebrating fans.

“That can’t happen. ... It’s a dangerous situation,” Scheyer told reporters Monday, days after Blue Devils center Kyle Filipowski was knocked down and hurt his knee when he collided with Wake Forest fans who stormed their home court after the Demon Deacons’ 83-79 upset victory Saturday.

“The ACC needs to do something,” he said. “There has to be something done to protect not just our guys, but any team that’s in that situation.”

Filipowski's run-in with Wake Forest fans happened one month after Iowa superstar Caitlin Clark was leveled during a postgame celebration at Ohio State , raising concerns then about court storming.

Neither Clark nor Filipowski have missed a game this season, though Filipowski's status might not be known until tipoff of Duke's next game, Wednesday at home against Louisville.

“We shouldn’t wait until next year. Something should be done right now," Scheyer said.

Banning the time-honored tradition of students rushing the floor after a big win would buck decades of the sport's cultural practice — but it could be done with nothing more than a few uniformed police officers and threats of consequences, legal and law enforcement experts said.

What is court storming, and who does it?

Court storming is generally limited to January, February and early March, when a home team defeats a favored visitor.

It doesn't happen when college basketball reaches its biggest audience, the popular postseason March Madness tournament.

"We do not have a policy on storming the court," NCAA spokesperson David Worlock said in a statement.

"Policies are implemented and enforced at the conference and institution level. It isn’t allowed during NCAA tournament games, and we work with host venues to develop a security plan to try and prevent it," he added.

A representative for the Atlantic Coast Conference, which includes Duke, Wake Forest and other traditional basketball powerhouses, like North Carolina and Virginia, said Tuesday that the league won't comment beyond a statement that commissioner Jim Phillips issued Saturday.

“The safety of our student-athletes is always our top priority. We have been and will continue to be, in contact with both Duke and Wake Forest regarding what happened following today’s game," he said then. "Across college athletics, we have seen far too many of these incidents that put individuals at serious risk, and it will require the cooperation of all — including spectators — to ensure everyone’s well-being. As a conference, we will continually assess with our schools the best way to protect our student-athletes, coaches, and fans.”

It's been feared that if a superstar player were ever badly hurt during a court storming, it could trigger a massive lawsuit against a host school.

But if there aren't written policies banning court storming, that absence in itself could insulate a school from stiff civil penalties if a player is injured in such a setting, University of North Carolina law professor Barbara Osborne said.

"A moral obligation [to protect players] is not necessarily a legal obligation," said Osborne, who teaches sports law.

She said schools and leagues could put themselves in more civil jeopardy by trying to enforce a ban on court storming.

"Reasonable people on a jury might disagree whether or not the school has a duty to keep people safe," she said. "We know from other situations, like a concert, when put up a barrier to prevent [fans] from coming on to the floor, more people get hurt, people getting crushed, they run over people who have fallen. 'Gosh, this is a close game; maybe we [on-the-floor security guards] should all lock arms and guard the perimeter [of the floor],' that would cause far more harm than allowing people to rush the court."

No storms in pro sports; not now at least

Chris Chambliss is besieged by fans

Fans’ storming the playing surface is unique to college basketball and almost never happens in professional sports — not now at least.

Just a generation ago, wild fan celebrations on the playing field were much more common.

When New York Yankees slugger Chris Chambliss won the American League pennant with a walk-off home run on Oct. 14, 1976, he had to barrel through a mob of Bronx faithful who had rushed onto the field as he circled the bases.

And when the Yankees won the World Series a year later, on Oct. 18, 1977, Reggie Jackson famously donned a batting helmet while playing in the outfield in the ninth inning of the title-clinching Game 6.

After the final out was recorded, Jackson ran over celebrating Yankees fans as he raced for safety in the dugout and clubhouse.

Terence “Terry” Monahan, who crafted stadium and arena security plans in his years as chief of department for the NYPD, insisted that crowds can easily be barred from courts and fields if leagues or teams make it a priority.

Reggie Jackson, center, makes a run for the dugout.

A threat of consequences and the sight of uniformed police officers would deter even thousands of undergrads from taking the floor, Monahan said.

"It'd be very easy," he said. "You make an announcement, 'Hey you're subject to an arrest, and if you're student, you could be suspended.' All of a sudden, there's a consequence going on to the floor. As of now, there is no consequence — no one is saying you can't do it."

Caitlin Clark leveled in postgame celebration

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark is helped off by security as fans storm the court following Ohio State's defeat of the Hawkeyes at Value City Arena.

The Clark and Filipowski run-ins could be the start of a national discussion about court storming.

"Caitlin Clark got decked way worse than Filipowski did," said Osborne, the UNC law professor. "Because there have been two incidents in a relatively short time, I think things might happen sooner than expected."

The Southeastern Conference, better known for its football, is taking a stronger stance against fans’ running onto the basketball floor. The SEC fined LSU $100,000 after Tigers fans stormed the floor Wednesday after a win over Kentucky.

"Yes, it is part of college sports culture, but if the coaches and the athletes are saying, 'Wait a minute,' then you have to think about it. There's a lot of culture that's embedded that we are re-evaluating," said Nicolette Aduama, the senior associate director of the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern University in Boston.

"Even if something is part of culture, if people are being injured or hurt in a celebratory situation, then we need to re-evaluate it."

CORRECTION (Feb. 28, 2024, 9 a.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated the organization that fined LSU $100,000 after its fans stormed the court. It was the Southeastern Conference (SEC), not the Securities and Exchange Commission.

college essay sports injury

David K. Li is a senior breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital.

Duke coach Jon Scheyer calls on ACC to address court storming after Kyle Filipowski injury

college essay sports injury

Two days after his star center was injured after fans stormed the court following an upset loss, Duke head coach Jon Scheyer still believes court storming "can't happen" and the ACC needs to find ways to prevent it or make it safer.

Mere seconds after Duke was upset by Wake Forest at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum Saturday, Wake Forest students and fans rushed to the court when center Kyle Filipowski appeared to get clipped by the foot by a fan. Filipowski injured his knee as members of the team came to his aid to help him get toward the locker room.

After the game, Scheyer asked when court storming be banned, with it being the focus of conversations in college basketball throughout the weekend. Speaking with reporters Monday morning, Scheyer said he's been in contact with Duke athletic director Nina King, who's been in touch with the ACC about what could be done in the future.

"The bottom line, however people feel, that can't happen," Scheyer said. "The ACC needs to do something. There has to be something done to protect our guys. To protect not just our guys, but any team that's in that situation.

"We shouldn't wait until next year, something should be done right now."

Scheyer added Filipowski wasn't the only person in danger after the loss, adding a Wake Forest student got face-to-face with freshman guard Jared McCain. The Blue Devils coach said there wasn't much he could do about the situation, believing his team had somewhat of a chance to tie the game down four points, and subbing out his star players would just put other people in danger. He said team student managers became the heroes of the day.

In terms of what could be done in the future, Scheyer looked back to how Arkansas managed its win over the Blue Devils in Fayetteville, North Carolina, in November. After the Razorbacks won, security was able to block any people from getting in contact with Duke players and staff as they left the court. Scheyer suggested better security measures need to be put in place to prevent incidents like Saturday from happening again. The ACC is one of a few conferences that doesn't have any penalties or disciplinary protocol for fans rushing the court after games.

"Bottom line. It was a failure," Scheyer said. "I think it'd be wrong for me not to speak up for all the student-athletes that can be put in this position, and something needs to change now before something serious happens.

"This has to be prevented in the future."

Kyle Filipowski injury update

Scheyer confirmed Filipowski hurt his knee during the court storming, but didn't disclose the severity of it. He said the team is still awaiting medical results for the center, but he's unsure if Filipowski is able to practice. Duke's next game is at home on Wednesday against Louisville.

Filipowski has started every game for Duke this season and averages a team-high 16.9 points and 8.2 rebounds a game. The sophomore had 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists in the loss to the Demon Deacons.

ACC coaches react on court storming

Other ACC coaches who spoke with the media shared their concerns with court storming, including Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton, who said "exceptional precaution" needs to take place in the league. He suggested ways to address it involve fining schools that allow court storming, hoping it will lead to institutions to understand the dangers.

"It's time for us to have a real serious conversation," Hamilton said. "We can come up with something where we don't have another incident like what has happened over the weekend."

After the win Saturday, Wake Forest coach Steve Forbes said he isn't a fan of court stormings.

"I've been a part of those before as a coach. Just don't feel safe. I'm sure the next time that happens we'll do a better job of taking care of that situation," he said.

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  • Sports Features

Healing Mind and Body: Injured athletes struggle with mental health


For Ithaca College freshman Daniel Hutchinson, football had always been an escape. However, a simple misstep while running turned his senior year of high school, his future and his identity as an athlete completely upside down.

Injuries are often an inevitable reality for athletes competing at the collegiate level. During their careers, 90% of student-athletes report an athletics-related injury , according to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. However, for the athlete, the pain of an injury can go beyond being just physical and can cause lasting emotional and psychological impacts.

Hutchinson said he used football to cope with his family’s financial struggles and his father’s abusive behavior towar d him, his siblings and his mother. He said that w hen he felt his knee pop during a football game at the beginning of his senior year of high school, he immediately knew something was wrong.

“It hurt too bad to the point where I couldn’t cry,” Hutchinson said. “I couldn’t breathe. They took me to the bench and told me I tore my ACL, and that’s when I started crying.”

Hutchinson’s injury turned out to be much more than a typical ACL tear. Hutchinson said that a fter undergoing surgery to repair the ligament, his doctors found a blood clot the size of a golf ball in his calf during a follow-up appointment. The clot was in a main artery connected to his lungs, so he had to have a second major surgery approximately a week after his first one.

“I spent a week just laying [in the hospital],” Hutchinson said. “I couldn’t move or do anything. I was in a dark, scary place. I needed help going to the bathroom and taking a shower.”

Hutchinson said that as an athlete he felt particularly devastated by his inability to be active and independent pos ts urgery. He was unable to compete for the entirety of his senior football season, and he is still completing the recovery process a year later. Hutchinson said that period of inactivity, especially in the months immediately after his surgery, allowed him to spend more time worrying and overthinking.

Chris Hummel, chair of the Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences, said the athletic training clinic at the c ollege treats hundreds of athletes every year. He said he believes that almost every athlete who comes into the clinic with an injury struggles psychologically at some point during their recovery process.

“It’s getting better because there’s less of a stigma around psychological issues, but athletes tend to want to deal with it themselves,” Hummel said. “They take pride in being stronger than the people around them , so I think it’s harder for them to get to that point where they feel comfortable asking for help.”

A study of Division I football players found that 33 % of injured athletes demonstrated high levels of depressive symptoms . Another study of male and female Division I college athletes concluded that athletes with self-reported pain or a history of injury had higher risk s of developing clinically significant symptoms of depression. 

Hutchinson said because he had always used football as an outlet, he found that he had no way to manage his emotions after the injury. While Hutchinson described his mental state as depressed, he never sought professional psychological help. He said he never felt comfortable opening up about his feelings because he felt like no one could relate to his experience.

“Every time I get angry or sad I go play football,” Hutchinson said. “When football was taken away it was like, ‘What do I do now?’ I hate to admit it, but I was super depressed. I said I was sad , but I never really talked about it because I felt so alone.”

Greg Shelley, associate professor in the Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences, said it is common for student-athletes to define their identities through their athletic achievements.

“Athletes identify with their sport due to their past accolades [or] recognitions from their participation,” Shelley said. “For many college-level athletes, they have been associated with and played their respective sport since their earliest youth sport years.”

While Hutchinson said he felt ostracized from his football teammates and friends, he was able to heal psychologically through his Christian faith. Hutchinson said that he was not very religious before his injury but that a friend texted him a few months after his surgery and invited him to church. He said he was reluctant to attend at first but loved it and has gone every Sunday since.

“I had a sense of a home, a place where I could open up but not to people; to a higher power,” Hutchinson said. “I got put in a youth group, and I got to hear other stories of people who were going through depression. [My faith] redefined me and shaped who I am today.”

Senior swimmer Angelina Domena severely dislocated her shoulder in her junior year of high school right before her club swimming championship meet. She had to have surgery and was unable to swim for approximately six months. 

Domena began dealing with an eating disorder in the aftermath of her surgery. Domena said that she began feeling self-conscious about her size when she was in middle school but that while she was swimming she had been more concerned with building strength than losing weight. She said her muscles atrophied as a result of her inactivity pos ts urgery, and she lost a significant amount of weight. She said that losing the weight transformed her insecurities into a psychological problem.

“During that process of transitioning from training 20 hours a week to nothing I had to change every aspect of my life: what I was eating, how much I was eating,” Domena said. “I became so skinny, but I was still seeing myself as this chubby 13-year-old girl. I was always really anxious about gaining that weight back and going back to how I looked before. I was so scared of that.”

Domena said that she weighed approximately 145 pounds during this time. She was 5 feet 11 inches tall. 

Domena said the mental impacts of her eating disorder continued to impact her even after she returned to swimming. She said that during her freshman year of college, she was constantly worried about gaining the freshman 15. However, she said that at the time, no one, including her, could see that her eating habits were problematic. She said she believed she was simply eating healthy and watching her weight.

Senior Justinian Michaels is an athletic training student and a member of the men’s soccer team. Michaels said the athletic training students at the college are taught the biopsychosocial model, which frames an injured athlete as an individual beyond their physical condition. Michaels said they learn to understand how a patient’s biological, psychological and environmental factors combine to form a complete picture of their overall health. 

“We’re the first line of defense in the medical field,” Michaels said. “It’s really important to have a bond with these athletes other than just the rehabilitation and the science aspect. You’re helping the athlete overcome something that’s really tough in life, and you’ve got to have these athletes relate back to you in some way.”

As Domena’s freshman year progressed and she reacclimated to the intensity of training, she said she gained back nearly 20 pounds of muscle weight. She said this allowed her to escape the negative perception she had of her body, and she rediscovered her passion for swimming.

Junior sprinter Allura Leggard competed in her first track and field meet when she was just 5 years old. Leggard said that aside from a sprained ankle in high school, she never had a severe injury before coming to college.

Leggard competed in the long jump at her first collegiate meet, the Greg Page Relays, on Dec. 2, 2017, at Cornell University. She said she remembers taking off from the board and immediately feeling a sharp pain in her back.

“When people asked me what was going on, I kept saying that my back felt nauseous,” Leggard said. “As a first – year, I was afraid of really expressing the pain I was in to a full extent because I didn’t want to let people down.”

Leggard said her anxiety about disappointing her coaches, family and teammates was so great that she continued to compete with severe pain until the Liberty League Indoor Track and Field Championships on Feb. 23 and 24, 2018. She said she qualified for the 60-meter dash final on the first day of competition, but , when she woke up the morning of the final , she could barely walk.

Leggard was diagnosed with a stress fracture on her lumbar three, a vertebra in the lower back that plays an important role in supporting the torso. After spending the spring and summer rehabbing the injury, she was allowed to return to running in August 2018. However, when she began training, her pain returned , and she eventually learned that the stress fracture had become a full fracture. 

“I felt like I let everyone down,” Leggard said. “I was a high prospect as a recruit, and I knew what my level could be. The fact that I wasn’t able to perform to the level I thought I could killed me. It completely busted my confidence.”

Leggard said that she also struggled throughout recovery with feelings of isolation. Because she was unable to compete for more than a year, she felt disconnected from her teammates.

“There were people who texted me asking how my injury was going, but , since you hang out with the team every single day , you form bonds, and when I wasn’t there all the time , I was excluded from that bond,” Leggard said. 

Shelley said that keeping athletes engaged with their sport is a crucial aspect of psychological recovery.

“It’s helpful to approach the injury and rehabilitation with the same focus and commitment they would normal, healthy training and competing,” he said. “In doing so, they embrace the injury, rehab-recovery and return-to-play transitions and remain focused on what is in their control.”

Hummel said that the athletic training staff attempts to keep athletes engaged with their teammates during their recovery process.

“It’s bringing them in when the rest of the team is there to do their rehabilitation so they feel like they’re still part of the team,” Hummel said. “We encourage them to talk to the coach to find out if there’s another role they can play while they’re not participating athletically.” 

Leggard said her loneliness was exacerbated by the lack of diversity on the squad, especially during her freshman season.

“I think being a person of color is the reason I had so much trouble opening up about what I was feeling,” she said. “I had like two upperclassmen and that was it. It’s like being a woman in a room full of men: You feel like you don’t have anyone to back you up or get you on that deeper level.”

Leggard said she attended several sessions at the Center for Counseling and Psychological Service and leaned heavily on her family for support. She said her mental recovery has helped her redefine her identity beyond her performance on the track. 

Leggard also said the POC community on the track team has expanded in the last two seasons, and she said she strives to be a mentor to the younger athletes.

“I just really want the other POC to understand that I’m there for them,” Leggard said. “I was so fortunate to have those upperclassmen who were there for me. I just really try to push the importance of us being such a strong group of women.”

Hutchinson said he hopes that his story will help other athletes open up about the connection between their mental and physical health.

“Mental health in the black community and for black athletes is tough,” Hutchinson said. “They don’t want to talk about things. At first , it was hard to even say a little bit about it to the black community, but , after I did, I found that they were very supportive of it and telling me we can get through this.”

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  • Angelina Domena
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  • Daniel Hutchinson
  • Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences
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  • Greg Shelley
  • Justinian Michaels
  • Liberty League Indoor Track and Field Championships

Shira Evans 06 joined the Ithaca College athletic department as a sports nutrition consultant. Evans specializes in relative energy deficiency, disordered eating, eating disorder care and is the only sports nutrition consultant in the Liberty League.

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Injuries intensify college basketball court storming debate

Seth Greenberg puts the blame on Wake Forest's administration after Duke's Kyle Filipowski gets injured in a court storming. (2:07)

  • William Weinbaum and Sara Coello

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Just over a month after Iowa women's basketball star Caitlin Clark collided on the court with an unidentified woman amid an Ohio State victory celebration, Duke 's Kyle Filipowski was injured Saturday as a wave of Wake Forest fans rushed their home court after the Demon Deacons' 83-79 defeat of the No. 8 Blue Devils.

A fan ran into Filipowski, and the Duke star hobbled off the court with help from teammates. "This gotta change...," Filipowski posted on X after the game. Duke coach Jon Scheyer called for court storming to be banned, and Wake Forest coach Steve Forbes agreed.

Said Scheyer : "How many times does a player have to get into something, where they get punched, or they get pushed, or they get taunted right in their face? It's a dangerous thing."

It's a question that has emerged with renewed urgency this college basketball season as several stars in the men's and women's games have been caught in the middle of storms. While scenes of masses of jubilant fans running onto a court date back to at least the black-and-white film days of the 1950s, in the modern version, fans spill onto the court and exultant participants, marketing-conscious schools and consumer-driven media outlets excitedly share the video.

Official statistics aren't available, but according to an ESPN review, there have been about three court storms a week over the past three months in college basketball. In a three-hour span on Feb. 21, there were episodes in Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Rarely has anyone gotten hurt, but a 2004 court storm resulted in Arizona high school star Joe Kay suffering a stroke that left him partially paralyzed .

In December, Purdue men's coach Matt Painter and his top-ranked Boilermakers lost at Northwestern . A month later, his No. 1-ranked team lost at Nebraska . A month after that, Purdue lost at Ohio State . Home-team fans stormed the court each time. In his postgame comments in Lincoln, Painter called for improved preparatory safety measures.

"A student from Nebraska should be able to storm the court, right? We're cool, but get ready for it if that's what you're going to do," Painter said. "Spread the word before somebody gets hurt."

Zach Edey , Purdue's 7-foot-4 center and the reigning national player of the year, told ESPN last week that there was "obviously the risk element to it." In his team's 11 road losses the past three seasons, fans stormed 10 times.

"Students, probably a lot of drunk students, charging the court against another team isn't the safe thing to do, but I think it's a part of the game," Edey said. "I think it's a reason for fans to go to games. I think there's nothing wrong with it, as long as you do it safely."

On Jan. 23 and Feb. 21, the Kentucky men lost road games, and opposing fans rushed the court. Per Southeastern Conference policy, the Wildcats were two-time recipients of $100,000 from fines the SEC levied against the home teams. In the second one, after an LSU buzzer-beater, Tigers women's basketball star Angel Reese joined members of the student section who stormed and she weighed in on social media: "STORMED THE COURT, GOT KNOCKED DOWN BUT GUESS WHAT??? IT WAS ALL WORTH IT!!! GEAUX TIGERSSSS."

After Clark hit the deck in Columbus on Jan. 21, the Iowa star didn't suffer serious consequences in what she described as a "kind of scary" collision that knocked the wind out of her. But what if the 2023 National Player of the Year and No. 1 prospect in this year's WNBA draft had been injured and her record-setting career derailed in an instant? On Saturday, what could have been done to prevent Filipowski, a top NBA prospect, from being injured? What if Edey or Reese had been hurt? What if any player, coach, official or fan gets hurt in a storm?

The same day as the Clark collision, a shirtless fan in New Orleans put his hand on the back of visiting Memphis player David Jones as the Tulane crowd stormed the court following a Green Wave win. Jones was uninjured, and Tulane condemned what happened, apologized and said it would investigate.

The incidents have sparked concern and scrutiny, and they have prompted a fresh round of questions about court storming: Should it be allowed? Can it be prevented? If it happens, what are schools and conferences doing to protect players, coaches and officials? How does event staff prepare? What conference policies or penalties are in place? What's the harm anyway? Why is there debate?

After Clark's collision, with court storming squarely in the spotlight, ESPN reached out to fans, players, coaches, administrators, crowd management experts, media members and the 32 Division I conferences for answers to some of the key questions about what should happen once the buzzer sounds at the end of a college basketball game.

Can it be prevented?

Discussions surrounding court storming come down to two questions: How can rules be enforced on such large crowds of ecstatic fans; and what are the risks of personal injury or property damage versus the rewards of such celebrations?

Stacey Hall, executive director of the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security, said controlling crowds is possible, but not easy. She suggested event hosts focus on preventive measures like discontinuing alcohol sales, planning alternative celebrations for the winning team or having coaches and leagues insist that fans stay at their seats at the end of a game. As for blocking fans from the court? Hall has low hopes.

"It's just not economical to have hundreds and hundreds of staff link arms around the court," Hall told ESPN in early February.

Although venues could shell out to hire enough security guards to surround courts or fields, excited fans have been known to push past them.

"How much security do you have at a football game, and you can't hold them back," LSU women's basketball coach Kim Mulkey said in January. "We can line them up like a bunch of soldiers out there, and at the end of the day, you're outnumbered."

Max Lehouiller, a Syracuse senior who joined a mob of fans who overwhelmed security after a Feb. 13 men's home win against North Carolina , said having more event staff can make it worse.

"It puts this mindset into people like, 'Oh, I have to sprint -- I have to get by this person," Lehouiller said.

An athletic facilities administrator at a Power 5 school, who asked to not be identified, recently told ESPN that given staff, budget and law enforcement limitations, "I subscribe to the idea that more people can be hurt, including staff, by trying to stop a storm than by trying to manage it."

Hall said sanctions on individuals caught on a court or a field might work, but she's not aware of schools that consistently impose them.

As for conferences' penalties against schools, their effectiveness as a deterrent appears to be negligible.

One former university administrator in the SEC even publicly made light of the possibility of a fine against his school this season. When a slew of South Carolina fans rushed to celebrate a win against Kentucky's men's basketball team in January, former South Carolina president Harris Pastides joined them, later posting on social media : "I've paid a fine for storming the court after beating Kentucky before, but this time it was free for me so I joined the crowd!"

"I enjoyed every dollar," Pastides said later.

Barry Geisler, former general manager of George Mason's EagleBank Arena, said after Filipowski's injury that the only way to stop court storming "is for the winning team to forfeit the game."

"Coaches love the student energy from an upset win over a great opponent," Geisler said. "The coach wouldn't like it nearly as much if the game is forfeited."

Kay, the Tucson High School star injured in 2004, told ESPN on Saturday that "it's way too long that we've been putting up with this."

"I'm completely in favor of banning court storms and field storms," said Kay, 38. "The police should arrest people for going places they are not allowed to go ... Hopefully people will now come to their senses."

What is the debate?

At least until Saturday, plenty of players, coaches, fans and administrators seemed content with keeping up the tradition. Mulkey told reporters on Jan. 24 that she'd love to see a storm if her Tigers win a national title.

Big South commissioner Sherika Montgomery recently told ESPN she wants to mitigate risk wherever possible, but that banning storms might have a chilling effect on attendance. She said she wants the conference's student-athletes to play in front of full crowds.

Montgomery attended the nationally televised game Feb. 1 at High Point, when fans stormed the court. She said the atmosphere was "electric" and security personnel escorted visiting Longwood off the court per conference policy, but the risks of storming warrant continuing reevaluation.

"My hopes for court storming in years to come will be, first and foremost, continued emphasis on the protection of student-athletes," Montgomery said. "And if that comes at a cost of no court storming, and/or court storming being really curtailed in a way to a certain point, that is something that I think I definitely would support."

Long opposed to court storms, ESPN analyst Jay Bilas, a former Duke player, said they make for good advertising, but that it's "just stupid" to tacitly encourage storming even when it's forbidden by some conferences. Fellow ESPN analyst and former Tennessee player Andraya Carter said in a segment with Bilas last month, "That's the one thing that you can do in college... it's also an igniting moment for the team that wins."

Carter did express concern for visiting players who, like Clark, have been caught in storms. "All you have to do is have a plan to get the opponents off the floor safely," she said.

Watching Clark get bowled over changed Auburn men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl's mind on storming. "I was kind of like, 'Man, that's just too dangerous right now,'" Pearl told ESPN prior to Saturday's Duke-Wake Forest game. "I think we've got to find a different way to celebrate."

What's the NCAA's position?

In a Feb. 20 interview with ESPN -- after Clark, but before Filipowski -- NCAA president Charlie Baker said of storming in football and basketball : "I totally get why people want to do this ... but I think the risks, especially given the stakes involved for a lot of these young people, are pretty high.

"If we could move away from this, I think it's a decision that's got to be made at the conference level."

Citing the safety of student-athletes, Baker said, "I think it's certainly something people should be talking about."

In a statement to ESPN last month, the NCAA said: "During the regular season, court-storming and security issues are handled by conference offices." For NCAA championships held on campuses, the association said host schools "are expected to have security plans in place. The NCAA does not have a written court-storming best practices document but does have subject matter experts available to assist schools with developing those comprehensive plans."

As for its championships at neutral sites -- where storming is less of an issue because of the composition of crowds -- the NCAA said "the national office works with host venue security and law enforcement to put necessary security plans in place." Added the NCAA:, "In most Division I basketball championship sites, the layout/design of the court and surrounding stands helps to mitigate court rushing as well."

What are some conferences doing?

In response to an ESPN query, 29 of 32 Division I conferences provided information on their court-storming policies and practices. More than half said they either have no policy or that their crowd-control approach covers storming, without mentioning it. A common denominator is an emphasis on the safe exit of visiting teams and game officials prior to crowds reaching the floor. Numerous conferences require schools' action plans in writing.

ACC schools do not have a fine structure or disciplinary measures in place for when fans rush the court, according to information provided to ESPN. Each school manages its own events. There are some conference requirements for keeping officials and visiting teams safe and helping them off the floor.

Nine conferences -- the Atlantic 10, Big East, Big South, Big Ten, Big 12, Conference USA, Pac-12, Southeastern and West Coast -- said the home school for a court storm could be subject to a fine under certain circumstances. Some have precise penalties, while others have general language regarding disciplinary measures and their applicability.

Since the start of 2024, there have been three storms after Big Ten basketball games at Nebraska -- Jan. 9, when the Cornhuskers routed top-ranked Purdue; Feb. 1, when they came back from 19 points down to beat No. 6 Wisconsin in overtime; and Feb. 11, when the Nebraska women's team overcame a 14-point deficit to defeat Clark and No. 2 Iowa.

"I was one that stormed the court, so I'm guilty as charged," Nebraska athletic director Trev Alberts said on his monthly radio show in January about the Purdue postgame. "Even [football] Coach [Matt] Rhule looks at me and he goes, 'Are we storming the court?' And I said, 'I think we have to.'"

The university declined ESPN's requests to interview Alberts and other administrators, but provided a statement from Alberts, saying in part: "The issue is not the home team and its fans, it is the safety of the visiting team. This is an area where we can do a better job as schools and as a conference and there must be clear protocol in place to make sure the opposing team gets off the court safely. It is important for schools to communicate that plan, and that the opposing team adheres to the plan that is in place."

What are fans doing?

One of the first videos that the Creighton fan club posted after the Bluejays' Feb. 20 victory against Connecticut included the message: "If you're going to storm the court, do it the right way." After an initial rush, it showed most of the celebrants jogging neatly toward the center of the floor from part of the sideline not lined with belt stanchions and uniformed security guards.

The number of storming videos has exploded in recent years. Broadcasters keep their cameras rolling, and after fans descend, spectators and stormers post their own footage. It's unclear how much that contributes to the popularity of storms, but it certainly means that some people rushing onto the court have a phone-sized gap in their field of vision and one fewer hand with which to navigate a crowd. The person who knocked down Clark was one of several on the floor seen filming while moving around the court.

Weeks after that storm in Columbus, a crew of college seniors descended on the court to celebrate Syracuse's unexpected win against North Carolina. Lehouiller told ESPN that even before the game started, he expected to join a storm if the Orange won. As Syracuse began to pull ahead and the crowd was on its feet, Lehouiller texted his friends: "storm chasing? [side eye emoji]"

Looking back, Lehouiller acknowledged the risk of injury and said he felt for the security guards who tried in vain to keep the crowds back. But at the time, he didn't hesitate, knowing he soon would graduate and this could be his last chance to participate in what he called the greatest tradition of college sports. The experience, he said, is now memorialized in video he shot on his phone.

"This is the only good situation to have a mob mentality," he said. "It's something that I will talk about, like, forever. I don't think I'll ever beat that memory."

ESPN researcher John Mastroberardino contributed to this report.

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The Road to Recovery: Getting Back in the Game

A few years ago, Brittany Mosier was a star soccer player in her sophomore year of high school. But after an ACL injury, she thought her hopes of becoming a college athlete were over. Here’s the story of her journey from ACL injury to a full ACL recovery.

As athletes, we always feel invincible. No matter what I had been told, I was convinced that a serious injury would never happen to me. The athletic trainers, coaches and doctors had described the “popping” sound that accompanies an ACL injury, but for years I ignored them. One day, when I least expected it, it happened to me. I tore my right ACL in May of 2009, near the end of my sophomore year of high school. For competitive athletes in high school, this is the most important time to start getting in touch with college coaches and for recruitment. For me, it could not have happened at a more inopportune time for my future soccer career and at the time, I thought my dreams were over. I was convinced I would never play soccer in college, let alone be able to finish playing for my varsity high school team. Although I did not realize it at the time, going through the injury and recovery process taught me many important lessons about perseverance and never giving up.

Here are 10 ways student athletes can prevent sports injuries.

Brittany’s ACL Injury

I remember the day like it was yesterday, even though it was roughly five years ago. I played for Seacoast United Soccer Club and we were at a soccer tournament in Connecticut for Memorial Day Weekend. That weekend I had been feeling very confident about my level of play and was so excited to start thinking about which college coaches and recruiters I would want to come watch my games.

ACL Injury

This particular game was intense and I will never forget the exact moment of my injury. There was this one player; she was quick on her feet and danced over the ball trying to trick her opponents. I was defending her and I can remember replaying the words in my head “don’t let her get around you” while she approached. I kept my eye on the ball and as I went to turn to my right and she tried to get past me I remember feeling the most excruciating pain shoot through my knee. My body went to turn and my foot stayed planted. I instantly fell to the ground and screamed. I remember laying there grabbing my knee thinking “oh no, what just happened?” Within seconds the athletic trainer arrived to evaluate and help carry me off the field. Just as quickly, my knee swelled up like a balloon. The athletic trainer assured me that I would be okay and back on the field before I knew it, but I didn’t believe him. I was in shock.

A day or two after my injury I came to Access Sports Medicine to get an MRI . As soon as the MRI technician came to get me she asked if I had heard a “pop.” I told her I wasn’t sure, but I didn’t think I had heard one. Even though, deep down, I remembered hearing something, I couldn’t bring myself to admit it. I was nervous about having the MRI because I had never had one before. I was also nervous about the potential results. Fortunately, the MRI was not bad and the tech at Access made me feel comfortable throughout the process.

For injuries that can’t wait, visit one of our urgent care orthopaedic clinics.

The Diagnosis

A couple days later, my mom and dad walked up to my room and told me that the doctor called and said that I had torn my ACL and had a slight tear in my meniscus. I instantly burst into tears thinking that there was no way this could actually be happening. It felt as though my whole world had come crashing down and left me there without the one thing that had always been in my life: soccer. At this difficult time, I had no choice but to face this unfortunate reality and start taking steps towards my recovery. Talking to Dr. Siegel and the staff at Access helped me stay positive and encouraged me to still be involved with my team.

ACL Injury

During my pre-surgery visit with Dr. Siegel, he explained the surgery and that he would use my patella tendon to replace my torn ACL . He told me that I had a long road ahead of me, but I would get through it and become an even better player. As scary as it was at the time, Dr. Siegel made me feel confident and I knew that I was in good hands. He told me I would have months of rehab and small gains and setbacks along the way and as challenging as that was, I never felt like I was alone. My recovery was a team effort all along the way and I knew that Dr. Siegel and the staff at Access wanted me back on the field as much as I wanted to be there. One thing that I vividly remember was when my physical therapist told me that patients with ACL injuries are his favorite to work with because it is such a rewarding recovery process. This really helped me realize that this process was about focusing on all the little steps forward even if I took a few steps backwards along the way. It was both a physical and emotional rollercoaster, but I was determined to be back on the field sooner than anyone had expected.

“Dr. Siegel made me feel confident, and I knew that I was in good hands. He told me I would have months of rehab and small gains and setbacks along the way and as challenging as that was, I never felt like I was alone.”

The road to recovery.

I used crutches for a few weeks after surgery before I was able to hobble around on my own. In the beginning I kept my knee brace on all the time, but as I progressed I wore it less and less until I was finally able to be brace-free! It was crazy to see how fast I lost all of the muscles in my right leg after surgery and after just a few weeks of not bearing weight on my leg, the muscles started to disappear. I remember being able to sit in a chair and look down at both of my thighs and my right thigh was literally half the size of my left.

As soon as I could walk around confidently on my own, I wanted to back out to the soccer field. Although I couldn’t play, I made it clear to my high school coach that I wanted to be as much a part of the team as I could be. I went to every single practice, game, conditioning session and pasta dinner. I was determined not to lose my connection with my team and with the sport that I love. It was tough sitting there, practice after practice watching all your friends play and complain about having to play in the rain. As annoyed as I would get hearing them complain about the weather, I was just envious and jealous, because I wanted to be out there. But I used it as motivation. I knew that I couldn’t feel sorry for myself and the only way that my situation would change was if I worked even harder to get healthy sooner. I made it my goal to be the best teammate and helped the coach as much as possible. If I couldn’t be on the field, I wanted my teammates to know that they had my support and they could count on me from the sidelines.

Dr. Siegel checked on my progress every few weeks to make sure I was healing correctly. I’ll never forget when he cleared me to start jogging. This visit was about four months post-surgery and I almost couldn’t believe the day had finally come. The next day I went to my high school soccer practice and went for my first jog in months. Running for the first time was the most liberating, exciting thing in the world but it was not easy. It felt awkward, uncomfortable, and almost like my body had forgotten how to run! Even though Dr. Siegel had assured me that my knee was ready for running, I was afraid to put too much weight on my newly repaired ACL. I was out of shape and exhausted after one lap around the track but I was so proud that I was able to start slowly joining my team on the field for conditioning again.

Overuse injuries account for 50% of sports injuries. Here’s how to prevent them!

As the weeks passed, every step of progress seemed more exciting than the last. Although I couldn’t play, I was trying in every way not to lose my skills. Sometimes after practice my mom would find me sitting in a chair with cleats on trying to juggle the ball with my good leg while my right one still healed. I did everything I could to stay in the game and be positive about my recovery. About four months after surgery, I started working out with Karen Kay, Craig Favara and the staff at Access Acceleration . Three times a week after school I would work out doing ACL injury prevention exercises and work to strengthen my leg muscles. Before my injury, I had no idea how important it was to strengthen the muscles around the knee in order to prevent ACL injuries, especially for female athletes. Karen taught me the correct way to jump and land in order to prevent any future problems. I began to realize that I had an opportunity to come back to the game better than I had ever been before.

In total, it took me about seven months to get back on the field practicing with no contact and about nine months get into game shape. Once I got back on the field with my team, I learned to never take a single practice or game for granted. At times following my injury, I felt hopeless. But having great doctors, physical therapists and personal trainers encouraging me all along the way helped me get through it. Recovery from an ACL reconstruction surgery is a long and challenging process, but it is something that any competitive athlete can overcome. For me it was hard at times, but looking back it could not have been a more rewarding experience. Every time I bent my knee a little more, increased the weight I was able to lift or jogged a little further, it offered me a glimpse of hope that I would get through it.

Brittany’s Advice

ACL Injury

My advice for anyone going through this recovery process is to never give up! All of your dreams for the future can still be there and you can still achieve them. I had always wanted to play Division I soccer, but I was injured at the most crucial time for recruiting. Yet, the summer before my senior year of high school I committed to play at Sacred Heart University. Everyone will have a different way of coping with this process and that is okay. My best advice is to stay as involved with your team and sport as possible! Make the effort to go to every practice and game even though you cannot play; it will help you keep your mind set on the goal of recovering to your full potential. The biggest challenges that we face can be the most rewarding to overcome and today I am stronger both mentally and physically than I ever thought possible.

We want to hear your stories! If you would like to share your story of injury and recovery, please contact us and we may feature you on our website.

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College Essay Myths Debunked: Yes, You Can Write About Sports

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The notion that all students who play sports write college essays about their athletic pursuits is simply inaccurate. Last year one our our students, a star football player, wrote about his aptitude for solving puzzles. Another student on the school rowing team wrote about her family’s immigration story. Athletes are not just athletes — they are complex humans with varied talents and experiences, many of which are worth exploring in essay form. Still, it is impractical to think that students who devote thirty hours or more of their lives each week to a sport, won’t feel compelled to write about their passion for soccer or aptitude for tennis or cheerleading. And rightfully so. Sports teach valuable skills like leadership, teamwork and discipline. They foster bonds of friendship that often last decades or longer. A working knowledge of sports can even be a lifelong conversation starter among strangers.

Students do not have to shy away from detailing these experiences and what they learned from them — they just have to shift the lens, add another layer, or approach these topics from creative perspectives to make them both original and reflective of a greater range of interests and talents. For example, maybe your experience diving for the ball as a volleyball player allowed you to take a risk in applying for the job of your dreams. Perhaps the qualities needed to be a good basketball player and also the skills needed to command a boardroom. Students might want to steer away from major tropes like getting injured before a big game or scoring the winning goal — though if those stories are treated with sincerity and an innovative perspective, they can make for effective essays as well. The test of whether or not you have achieved the level of creativity necessary to set a sports essay apart from all the rest is this: Could any other basketball player have written your essay? If another lacrosse player put her name on your application, would the details still be mostly accurate? If the answer is yes, find another way in; add another twist; push towards a more compelling and creative conclusion. So, yes, you can write a sports essay — it just has to be a sports essay unlike any other.

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Oller's Second Thoughts: Time to put halt to court storming before serious injury occurs

college essay sports injury

Here we go again. Another college basketball court storming , another player knocked to the floor. 

Duke 7-footer Kyle Filipowski was injured after colliding with Wake Forest fans following the Demon Deacons’ 83-79 win against the Blue Devils Saturday. After a fan made contact with Filipowski, appearing to bump his knee, the center was helped to the locker room by a manager and teammate.

Filipowski felt the contact was intentional.

“It's just really ridiculous how that situation is handled,” he told WFMY News after the game. “I absolutely feel like it was personal. Intentional for sure. Like I said, there's no reason where they see a big guy like me trying to work my way off the court and they can't just work around me, you know? There’s no excuse for that.”

It was the second high-profile collision of a player and fan in little over a month. Iowa star Caitlin Clark fell to the floor at Value City Arena Jan. 21 when an Ohio State fan ran into her following the Buckeyes’ 100-92 overtime win against then No. 2 Iowa.

After that incident, I wrote that player safety is paramount, more important than fans getting to celebrate by rushing the court. Boy, did I receive pushback, as readers blamed Clark for flopping after the collision. My response was fans should not have been on the court in the first place. Or at least should have waited until players had exited the court before racing into the celebratory melee. More pushback. It’s the job of opposing coaches to protect their players after a game. Don’t blame fans for just wanting to have fun. 

Bah. Fans have become increasingly aggressive as they also become increasingly bent on enjoying the “experience” of winning. We’ve already seen college football fans taunt players while recording their viral moment on a cell phone. What’s next? Taking credit for injuring an opponent’s best player? 

Could schools and conferences do more to maintain sanity and safety? Of course, beginning with putting an end to endorsing such behavior, even passively. I cringed when reading a post from Gene Smith on X (formerly Twitter) after the OSU men upset No. 2 Purdue this month. 

“AN INCREDIBLE WEEKEND FOR THE BUCKEYES!!” Smith tweeted. “Couldn’t be more proud of all our coaches and student athletes. A weekend of sweeps, trophy lifts, B1G road wins, court storms and more!”

Thankfully, no one got hurt during the Purdue post-game celebration. Filipowski was not so lucky. He will be fine, but it was a scary moment, nonetheless.

A Dispatch reader suggests “the only way to stop court/field storming is to suspend the offending school from that season’s postseason play, either the conference tourney/championship game and/or any bowl game/NCAA March Madness. It’s the only quick, decisive, permanent solution.”

At first, I thought that idea was too strong, but then I wondered what happens when an athlete is more seriously injured during the “running of the bullsh, er, manure.” Dropping the hammer may be what is needed to teach some hard lessons. 

Last thing: I am not opposed to “safe” court storming, if such a thing is able to happen (I have my doubts), once players have left the court or field. But let’s limit the celebrations to actual humongous moments. Duke was ranked No. 8 before unranked Wake Forest won.

If that makes me a party pooper, so be it. Better that than lamenting a torn ACL or broken leg from a court storming collision. 

Athletes own their space. Not fans.

Should Jake Diebler have interim label removed?

When wondering what it would take for Ohio State interim coach Jake Diebler to be named head coach permanently, I think back to Luke Fickell running the football team after Jim Tressel’s forced resignation in 2011.

Diebler is 2-1 since replacing Chris Holtmann on Feb. 14, including a win against No. 2 Purdue and Sunday’s 60-57 win at Michigan State, the first time the Buckeyes had won at the Breslin Center in 12 years. Beating Sparty also snapped a school-record 17-game losing streak in road games.

Fickell was 3-1 through September before the unranked Buckeyes lost their next two games, to unranked Michigan State and at No. 14 Nebraska. Ohio State rebounded with three consecutive wins, including against No. 16 Illinois and No. 12 Wisconsin, but Fickell’s chances ended with four straight losses to close the season.

In hindsight, the Buckeyes likely would have needed to finish 12-1, with wins over Michigan and in a bowl game, for Fickell to retain the job. Even then, Urban Meyer was waiting in the wings.

I put Diebler’s chances of being named permanent head coach at 10% or less, not because I don’t think he’s a good coach but because a) new athletic director Ross Bjork wants someone with head coaching experience ; and b) I don’t see OSU winning more than two more games the rest of the season, though I hope I’m wrong, because it would make Bjork’s decision more interesting. 

What would happen if the Buckeyes won their last three regular-season games – Nebraska, Michigan and Rutgers – then win at least three in the Big Ten Tournament? Unfortunately for Diebler, I’d only increase his odds to 25%. He needs to make the NCAA Tournament to shed the interim tag, and that only happens if Ohio State earns an automatic bid by winning the conference tourney title. I’m not sure that makes him a lock to win the job, but it would put him in the hunt. And deservedly so. 

Listening in

“I love fighting. I love two roaches that fight. Anything that fights.” – Mike Tyson, watching a PFL mixed martial arts fight.

Where do you stand on anyone older than 21 wearing a team jersey in public (not including at sporting events)? Does it look stylish? Silly? To each his own? I’m not a big fan of it. Chime in. 

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Duke's Kyle Filipowski injured in court storming after Wake Forest's win over Blue Devils

Filipowski had to be helped to the locker room as he hobbled off the floor following duke's loss in winston-salem.

Duke v Wake Forest

Duke star Kyle Filipowski  injured his knee on Saturday after Wake Forest fans rushed to the center of the floor following the Demon Deacons' 83-79 win over the Blue Devils in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Fans stormed the court before the clock expired in an apparent security failure that saw Filipowski tangled up in the middle of a stampede around midcourt. Teammates came to his aid and had to help him to the locker room as he hobbled on one leg.

"I felt a bunch of hits on my body," Filipowski told Greensboro, North Carolina, CBS affiliate WFMY . "This one was the worst of them.  Like I said, it's just really ridiculous how, you know, that situation's handled. I've already heard that there (are) some videos of (me) getting punched in the back, so I absolutely feel like it was personal, intentional for sure. There's no reason why they see a big guy like me trying to work my way off the court and can't work their way around me. There's no excuse for that."

Filipowski was grimacing in pain after the incident and had one arm around a Duke staffer as he made his way through the tunnel back to the locker room. Teammates and coaches noticed he had been clipped during the court storming and did their best to try and brush off eager and apparently unaware Wake fans.

"When are we going to ban court-storming?" Duke coach Jon Scheyer asked after the game. "It's a dangerous thing."

Scheyer added that right now he is unsure of Filipowski's status moving forward.

"On behalf of Wake Forest, we sincerely regret the unfortunate on-court incident following this afternoon's men's basketball game and hope the involved Duke student-athlete is doing better," Wake Forest athletic director John Currie wrote in a statement released by the school. "I called Duke Vice President and Director of Athletics Nina King and ACC Senior Associate Commissioner Paul Brazeau immediately after the game and expressed our sincere regret for the situation and our concern for the Duke student-athlete's well-being. Although our event management staff and security had rehearsed postgame procedures to protect the visiting team and officials, we clearly must do better. I appreciate the postgame comments of Duke Head Coach Jon Scheyer and I am in complete agreement that something more must be done about the national phenomenon of court and field storming and Wake Forest looks forward to being a part of those conversations."

ACC commissioner Jim Phillips also issued a statement after the game, expressing his concern over player safety and seemingly calling for an examination into changes to postgame protocols.  

"The safety of our student-athletes is always our top priority," Phillips' statement read. "We have been and will continue to be, in contact with both Duke and Wake Forest regarding what happened following today's game. Across college athletics, we have seen far too many of these incidents that put individuals at serious risk, and it will require the cooperation of all – including spectators – to ensure everyone's well-being. As a conference, we will continually assess with our schools the best way to protect our student-athletes, coaches, and fans."

DOWN GOES NO. 8 🚨 It's storming at @WakeMBB after beating Duke ⛈️ 🎥: @espn pic.twitter.com/0mRqhzMsKE — CBS Sports College Basketball 🏀 (@CBSSportsCBB) February 24, 2024

"When I played, at least it was 10 seconds before people stormed the court," Scheyer said. "Now, the buzzer doesn't even go off and they're running down the floor."

Filipowski scored a team-high 17 points in the losing effort and leads the team this season in points and rebounds per game. The former five-star recruit is in his second season with the program and a projected top-20 pick in the 2024 NBA Draft .

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