Senior David Sosna heard the pop. It sounded eerily familiar, like the first time he had torn his ACL the previous summer. The pain was excruciating. He lay on the ground clutching his knee to his chest. He was already expecting the worst as his coaches carried him off to the sidelines.
Three weeks later, he hasn’t left the sidelines. His white, number 80 jersey fits snugly over a black sweatshirt and sweatpants. With each play he paces the sidelines, shouting words of encouragement to his teammates. He won’t be joining them on the field this game though. In fact, Sosna won’t be playing in any more football games for the rest of his high school career. Not since the Freestate game. Not since he tore his ACL.
With Sosna out for the season, the Lancers aren’t just losing a wide receiver and safety; they’re losing one of their key leaders. Younger players are having to step up to fill positions on the already small-rostered team, especially junior Mitchell Tyler, who replaced Sosna as a safety.
“He helps me a lot on the sidelines with coverages, he’s kind of like my one-on-one coach,” Tyler said.
Rather than leading by example, Sosna now leads with his knowledge and love of the game. He helps teammates by telling them what they can improve on when they come off the field and telling them what they did well. From old friends he’s played with since freshmen year to athletes who are brand new to the team, he tries to help out wherever he can. He also gives advice to younger players, such as sophomore Will Oakley.
“Whenever I’m in I always hear him talking, yelling at me from the sideline, trying to help me out,” Oakley said.
He may never play another game, but Sosna still won’t give up on his team. Each practice he stands on the side of the field, discussing plays with assistant coach Chip Ufford, yelling out coverages to Tyler, or just trying to cheer on his team. He talks to the team before games, energizing them before they rip through the Lancer banner and onto the field.
“He will just say, ‘If you can’t find anyone to play for, play for me. Don’t take it for granted, you don’t know what could be your last play,’” Tyler said.
Just as he’s stayed to support his team, they’ve supported him as he’s dealt with his injury. Within the past month he has received an outpouring of support from his teammates, coaches and peers. Whether they were wishing him luck for surgery or asking about his well-being, he knew he was never alone on his road to recovery.
“It’s good, you know, whether I’m waking up from one of my many naps throughout the day, it’s nice to see that extra support it kinda gives you a little extra boost, just to know that people are caring about you and that you’re in peoples thoughts and everything,” Sosna said.
Sosna isn’t the only one affected by his injury; the team is feeling the hurt as well. Head football coach Chip Sherman said that the loss of Sosna is very hard on the team, but they have to keep moving forward; Sosna will be there with them the whole way.
“David’s the type of guy who is a true team player and he just wants to help out and support his friends and his team,” Sherman said.
* * *
Sosna is no stranger to injuries. In addition to the full tear in his ACL, he has two separate tears in his meniscus and a partial tear in his MCL. This season alone, he has had a separated shoulder and stitches in his leg from being cleated. Before his junior track season he sprained his ankle and could only run half of the season.
After a very successful sophomore year of track, where he placed fifth in the 110 meter hurdles at state, Sosna thought a college career was within reach. At that point, Sosna considered quitting football to pursue track in college, but football just meant too much to him to walk away from the program.
“I couldn’t see myself sitting out in any way to prevent injury or anything because it meant way to much to play on Friday nights with all these guys,” Sosna said.
He couldn’t leave his teammates then, and he can’t leave them now, even if he can only stand on the sidelines.
“I just want to give them all my support and just make sure that I’m there on the sideline even if I have to hobble out there on my crutches,” Sosna said. “As long as I’m there, it means a lot to be with them.”