Senior Peter Haynes is surrounded by his teammates as the SM North district football stadium shakes with excitement. The roaring student section is overflowing into the parents’ seating, the band is blaring and the cheerleaders are smiling with excitement. It’s Friday night, and the Lancers are decked out in their new columbia blue uniforms. All of them except Haynes. Instead of pads and the columbia chrome helmet, he sports crutches under each arm and a rigid brace around his left leg.
Over the summer Haynes injured his meniscus during a summer workout, forcing him off the field and onto the sideline, coaching.
After previous meniscus injury, he was ready to start preparing for the next season at his summer workout. He hadn’t run in months.
“We were doing some start and stop drill where you make cuts, and I just cut wrong and felt a pop in my knee,” Haynes said.
At first Haynes stayed positive, hoping it was a hamstring injury or something not as severe as a meniscus tear, which was the same injury he has had two previous times in high school. After dreading the MRI results for days, he got his answer.
“I was still denying it, and when the doctor came in and told us it was torn was when it all became real in my head,” Haynes said. “I realized that I would probably never play again and that was a really crushing moment.”
Head Coach Dustin Delaney called a meeting with Haynes after he heard the news that he wouldn’t be able to play his senior year.
“He is an integral part of the team and will still have a huge part in our success,” Delaney said. “He will help the guys that don’t know [what to do],” Delaney said.
Haynes is at practice everyday after school, just as if he were playing. He works mostly with the offensive line, especially the newest additions, seniors Steven Shipley and Charlie Kephart.
Standing on the sideline next to the coaches, he watches their footing and blocking, making sure they are doing everything right.
“Peter has done a good job and is staying a valuable member of the team,” Delaney said. “The kids all respect him, so when he says something they know what he is talking about. I think that’s the most important thing that he has everyone’s respect.”
Before being confined with a brace and standing on the sidelines, Haynes was the starting left tackle, which is considered the most important spot on the offensive line since it protects the quarterback’s blind spot. One of his earliest coaching assignments was prepping his replacement and friend since fourth grade, senior Steven Shipley, for the job.
“The first week was hard,” Shipley said. “My mid sticks weren’t the best and he came over to me and showed me what to do. He told me to try and get my hand on them first and now they are getting better.”
Injuries are not a new thing for Haynes. Last year, during the first football game of the year, he tore his right meniscus, forcing him to sit out three games. Later that spring, he tore it again, squatting at max outs trying to set a new record. The frequency of the tears is due to an overgrowth of meniscus in his knees, causing them to be more prone to tearing.
Despite not being able to play his senior year, Haynes still stays positive and encouraging with his team.
“My teammates don’t treat me any different from if I was playing,” Haynes said. “They still joke around, and it’s still that same feeling that I would have had if I were still playing.”