By: Cameron Barlow
CNU Football was having a rough day. On the heels of a season-opening loss to rival and 7th ranked Salisbury, the team headed to Farmville, VA looking for a non-conference win against Hampden-Sydney College. The chances for that win soon evaporated after a first half aerial assault by Tennessee-transfer quarterback Nash Nance. Anxious for his opportunity to play in his first offensive series in a college game, then-freshman Scott Fahey waited on the sidelines knowing a blowout would mean he would get his chance. That chance never came. On a simple extra point snap, Fahey blocked, his knee buckled, and he suffered a torn ACL that would change the course his season and his career.
“I was on PAT and remembered stepping down to protect my gap when my knee straightened and buckled. I heard a loud pop and knew something was wrong. The doctors came out and so did Coach K. Dr. Jay told me he was afraid I tore some ligaments in my knee and I would not be going back into the game.” A rush of emotions hit Fahey has he realized his freshman season would come to a close so quickly. “I remember walking to the sideline and refusing to be helped off. It did not hit me until I sat down on the bench with the trainers that my freshman year was going to be over. I broke down and let out some tears because everything I had worked so hard for and all my goals I wanted to accomplish were taken away with one play.”
The injury was difficult for Fahey physically and mentally. Physically, surgery and an extensive, arduous rehab was required. For Fahey, the daily routine and overall process was difficult. “Rehab was tough. We always worked on getting full extension back in my knee first. Then I would have to walk backwards and forwards on the treadmill for twenty minutes. Once I got full extension we started doing running in the pool and eventually lifting light weight and working on not trying to favor my other knee.” Through months of hard work in the training room, weight room and physical therapy, Fahey was able to participate in spring practice six months after his injury, albeit on a limited basis. The work to get back to 100% continued throughout the spring practices and during the long summer months.
Mentally, Fahey had to overcome the saddening realization that his freshman year was ended so quickly, and had to prepare himself the demands of rehab. To do this he kept himself motivated and set goals for himself to reach throughout the process. One way he was motivated was through his friends and family. “I stayed motivated for rehab because when I tore my ACL I saw the look on my dad’s, mom’s, and girlfriend’s faces. They were all pretty emotional. I told myself at the table I was sitting on that I was going to come back stronger and better than ever for them.” His friends and family’s reaction to his injury was a driving force of motivation throughout his rehab process. Fahey continued to look towards the future and his upcoming season. “My goal when I was rehabbing was to come back next year, start, win the conference and make some sort of all conference accolade.” To do this, Fahey had to overcome the mental and physical obstacle of getting back on to the field for the first time since the injury. That obstacle shouldn’t be understated, as the fear of getting hurt again can change the way athletes approach the game and their confidence in the repaired body part. Fahey’s confidence rarely wavered and as camp began for the next season, he was ready to make an impact on the team. “I was never really scared to step back on the field. The only thing that scared me was getting rolled up on by another lineman. When that happened in camp the fear was gone. CNU has a great medical staff and Tidewater Physical Therapy worked really hard to get me back 100%, so I knew that I was going to be fine.”
The injury was somewhat of a blessing in disguise. The time away from football and away from the team allowed Fahey to take a step back and evaluate his approach and mindset to the game and towards his teammates. An eye-opening experience, Fahey saw the need to improve his relationship with his teammates to better his experience with the team. “When I was hurt I felt very disconnected from the team. I came in with a dog eat mindset and was not very concerned about connecting with my teammates. I didn’t make any deep connections with my teammates and that was my fault. I felt like I was not a part of the team and that was my fault.” An easy going guy, Fahey was able to let his personality shine through upon his return to the team in the fall. He kept the team laughing, and his locker room and practice field antics kept the team upbeat and laidback. “The injury changed my mindset completely. I was constantly fooling around with my teammates and just having a great time. I think I really came out of my shell my sophomore year for the best. I stopped focusing on me and really bought into the team and I have never looked back.” On the field, Fahey stepped into the starting role at center with a new mindset to playing. Never taking playing the game for granted has become a clichéd saying, but for Fahey it reigns true. “The number one thing I took away from the injury was that any play could be your last. God can take anything you have away in an instant. I learned that I should play every play and snap like it’s my last, because you never know when the day comes and you can’t play anymore.”
It is one thing to comeback back from an ACL tear and just play. It’s a whole other deal to come back from an ACL tear and play at the level Scott Fahey has performed. He enters this coming season as a three year starter at center, the anchor of the offensive line for thirty two consecutive games. He has been an all-conference player in two different conferences: 1st team in 2014 in the USA South Conference and 2nd team in 2015 in the New Jersey Athletic Conference. He has also received all-state honors in both 2014 and 2015. His talent, leadership and passion for the game is admired by his teammates and coaches alike. Those qualities might not have ever gotten the chance to come out, and the work that he put in to get through his injury shows what kind of person Fahey is, and it has not gone unnoticed, especially by his head coach Matt Kelchner. “It’s really hard to be patient, but it showed a great deal of maturity on his behalf to work through it and stay committed to it, cause it’s easy to quit in that kind of situation, but he never did and that probably tells you as much about him as anything.” Fahey’s mindset is simple and it starts with getting back to the program’s traditional winning ways. “I did not go to CNU to be 4-6 and be a loser. I want to win and go to the playoffs. All the other accolades I have gotten and might get, mean nothing unless I win.” Fahey’s motivation is crystal clear. “My motivation is my parents and teammates. My parents have always supported me in everything I do and were always by my side through thick and thin. I cannot thank them enough for what they have done for me so I want to go out there and be the best I can be for them. My teammates are also ones who I came back for. I felt like I was letting them down if I did not come back and I’ll never have the chance to play the sport with them again.” An ACL injury got him down, but certainly not out, and Fahey, the Captains’ anchor in blue and silver, gets a chance to finish his career with another championship this fall.