It hurt. The physical pain subsided in due time. The emotional pain was the part of the injury that Len’Neth Whitehead had to find different ways to endure following the lisfranc fracture that ended his senior football season.
Much of the athletic things Whitehead had planned for his senior year didn’t happen. Whitehead did sign with the University of Tennessee to play football and throw shot put.
Instead of the once bright and promising senior year of he’d hoped for Whitehead faced news that he may never play again, which turned out to be inaccurate, two plus months bound to a scooter, another month on crutches and another month in a walking boot.
“I was hurt just because of the fact that I worked hard to get where I was,” Whitehead said. “I was trying to prove myself and I felt like this past year was going to be my best year. I felt we had a really good shot at getting that state championship this year. I was hurt that I couldn’t be a part of that process.”
Whitehead’s support system came to his aid. Sitting around the house wasn’t something Whitehead looked forward to.
Friends called, they visited and when he wanted to make his way out of the house they helped him. From moving his scooter up and down stairs to driving him to events he had Whitehead had his support.
“They were always there,” Whitehead said. “I had a good support system from everyone... It was a tough time. I think it was more of me just hanging around my friends.”
Whitehead’s support didn’t just come in way of friends. Athens Academy’s parents rallied to the senior in any way they could.
“I have never seen a group people that just were willing to help the way they were,” Whitehead’s mother Latonice Wade said. “Parents were calling me and asking if there was anything I needed if they could drive us to the doctor.”
Whitehead’s mother has watched as the last few years of adversity that has come with his injury has made him a stronger person. As a mother, Wade feels peace in seeing how Whitehead has come through his injury.
“I think he’s a very blessed person,” Wade said. “I tell him all the time to thank the Lord because he has so many blessings for one person. Not only is it sports, he’s very intelligent, he has a great personality, he can act and he can draw. That’s unusual for one person. I think that the Lord placed his hardships in his life so that he can build strength for his future. Those injuries and those hard times have strengthened him mentally and physically to be equipped for his future.”
Whitehead expects to make a full recovery by the fall in time to join the Volunteers for the 2020 football season.
“It’s going to be a scary site,” Whitehead said. “I’m ready.”
Oconee Physical Therapy & Sports Rehabilitation/Oconee Enterprise Athlete of the Week is chosen by the sports staff of The Oconee Enterprise. You are welcome to email nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday at 10 a.m.
Oconee Physical Therapy & Sports Rehabilitation can be reached at www.oconeept.com