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Blessing in Disguise (Part 2) by Cameron Nunez

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Today here at “The Shop” we continue part two of Cameron’s amazing life journey and experiences with the sport of women’s wrestling.

After experiencing extreme pain and seeing a specialist, he prescribed muscle relaxants and suggested that I undergo an x-ray because the discomfort had not subsided after two weeks. I received my results a few days later, which revealed a small curvature in my cervical spine. My athletic trainer then decided to begin back rehab to strengthen the muscles in my back. I did rehab and stretches before our practice four times a week for a month, but I was still in a lot of discomfort. It seemed as if no matter what I did or how hard I tried, the anguish would not go away. I did not want my season to end, but the discomfort began to interfere with my mental health and daily routines. 

At this time, I knew I had to make a difficult choice: keep pushing or rest/recover.

Following several discussions with my trainer and coach, I decided it was time to call it quits for the season in order to seek out the root reason for  my upper back pain, but most importantly, to rest my body. I didn’t do much physical activity for the next month, which destroyed me as an athlete. I couldn’t wrestle, lift, sprint, or even walk steadily without discomfort. I knew my teammates were working hard and improving, while I sat on the sidelines.

My rehab appointments always coincided with our practice times, so I could not even make it to practice most days. I did my best to be there, but it was difficult to be around something you wanted to do but couldn’t. 

At the time, being an athlete was all I knew; I had no other hobbies or interests. I had no idea that my injury would turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

The Athletic Training Program at East Stroudsburg University is regarded as one of the best in the country. I was looking forward to spending the next four years learning what it takes to become an athletic trainer. During the fall 2022 semester, I had the opportunity to shadow one of the university’s athletic trainers.  During that time, I began to fall in love with it, but my main emphasis was still wrestling. After my injury, I had the opportunity to travel with the team as an athletic training intern in early December. I’ll confess that I was disappointed that I could not wrestle, but it was still one of my favorite days with the team. I was able to concentrate on cheering for my teammates, conducting my first ankle taping, and assisting with one of my teammate’s ailments. 

After that tournament, I was certain that this was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I began watching in the Northampton School District in January, and it has been one of the most enjoyable and eye-opening experiences of my life. I also got to work at high school boys wrestling districts and regionals, which was incredible and sentimental for me because that gym was where I spent my weekends since middle school. I missed wrestling terribly, but I was finally able to devote my complete attention to my future career, which filled the void left by not wrestling.

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