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This article was written by Melanie Pastuck '11, post clavical surgery.

Not many people find themselves with a broken bone the first week of college. I happen to be one of, I imagine, the few people that could ever say that they have had this experience. Impulsive decisions can irrevocably change events within your life.

This September, I decided to join the DWRC. I did not quite know what to expect, but as the following two weeks proceeded, I grew to really enjoy playing and was terribly excited to participate in my first b-side game. After seeing the a-side narrowly win their game against Northeastern, I was both nervous and elated to finally get the chance to show off what I’d learned. The previous night, I had gone out to CVS and gotten ready for the minor injuries that I thought I would probably suffer; buying band-aids and icy hot. Unfortunately, my first game ended just as I was tackled to the ground and felt my clavicle crack. Though I’d never injured myself seriously before in my life, I knew in that instant that I would not be able to play for the rest of the season. When Coach took me back to my dorm room after x-rays and saw the band-aids and icy hot left out on the floor, I remarked that, “I obviously was preparing for the wrong injuries.”

Though I was out of commission, the broken bone almost gave me the opportunity to meet the team more. So many of my teammates came to visit me, and whether it was out of concern or guilt, to me it did not matter at the time (I was on strong painkillers)! After surgery to reset the bone, I still had the opportunity to see the team at our weekly meetings, and tried to come to some practices. Even though I could not play, I still felt very much a part of the team, something that I completely did not expect.

Esoterically enough, in my class on Religious Existentialism, we were discussing Kierkegaardian ethics. Not meaning to give a lecture on his philosophy, I will in brief explain how this relates to the rest of the article, and how that class discussion convinced me that I could never give up that moment I had out on the pitch. Kierkegaard describes a sphere of existence known as the Ethical
sphere. To enter the Ethical sphere, one must passionately commit oneself to an ideal. By committing oneself to the attainment of a particular perfection, Kierkegaard believes that one is attaining the highest possible worldly good that one can. Passion, he claims, is the most important thing, and no matter what the Ethical devotion, it is the dedication itself that completes a person. In order to illustrate this point, the Professor described my injury to the class. He stated, hypothetically speaking of course, that I happened to be a World Cup rugby player who had injured herself and had her dreams of glory on the pitch crushed. To be in Kierkegaard’s Ethical sphere, I would then dedicate myself completely to the ideal of rugby; the essence of rugby. Regardless of whether or not I could play, an Ethical person would find herself always striving towards helping the team, towards doing all that they could to support the team, etc.

At the time, I found the situation very whimsical. Me? An internationally acclaimed rugby player that had received a career ending injury? How trivial! However, as the class continued the discussion, that example was always brought up. I walked out of class that day, and felt a little ashamed. I had only been playing rugby for two weeks! I was not injured beyond the point of recovery either. And that’s when it hit me – I could still do so much, I didn’t nearly have the impediment of this hypothetical example. For weeks, when we discussed the Ethical mode of life, always “Melanie the passionate rugby player” served as the model. How could I ever let that example falter? After deciding to play rugby, for me, there was no looking back.

After that, I tried to attend practices, and knew that even if I was not able to play, I could at least learn rules, strategies, and offer myself to help in any way that I could. Ironically enough, I sometimes found myself one of the few players that came to certain social events, even though I was obviously the least involved at practices and would not be able to compete until the spring. It was not a burden or a chore, it became something I was genuinely interested in, and genuinely passionate about.

Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “That which does not kill me, makes me stronger.” For me, this has been validated a thousand times over in the past two months. Personally, I have discovered that I am capable of handling so much more than I thought I was capable of physically, and that I can endure in the face of pain. And perhaps even more importantly than that, I have learned that the camaraderie of a team is irreplaceable. To paraphrase the words of a recent techno song by Daft Punk, I intend to spend the winter working harder and making myself better, faster, and stronger in order to play this spring season.