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Katherine Marr
Ms. Gardner
English 10 Period 0
16 January 2015

Knee Deep in Gratitude
As a competitive athlete whose sport consumes my daily schedule, it is to be expected
that I chose to reflect upon a body part essential for that sport. But if one were to assume that as a
soccer player, I chose feet, since they are of the utmost importance when kicking and dribbling a
ball, they would be making an uneducated generalization. Soccer players run for almost 90
straight minutes. Soccer players are constantly changing direction, speeding up, slowing down.
Soccer players spend 99% of a game without the ball at their feet. In all reality, kicking a ball is
only needed for 1% of the game. The other 99% is speed, stamina, and agility. The body part I
believe to be most essential in not only soccer, but everyday movement, is the knee.
Our knees were crucial to our mobility even before our feet. We all learned to crawl
before learning to walk, right? Knees have a peculiar appearance, which changes over time. In
the early years, they are soft, pudgy; later they harden and grow more defined. They are similar
to the elbow, breaking your leg into two parts, but unlike the elbow, they do not come to a point.
Instead they are rounded, and bony, and look too small to hold up your entire body. They allow
you movement, allow you freedom, allow you independence. They are also incredibly prone to
scrapes, bruises, and immobilizing injuries. Unfortunately, I have come to learn this the painful
way.

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Throughout my tumbling elementary career, I suffered from many scraped knees. In third
grade I lost my balance while giving my friend Siena a piggyback ride, sending us both crashing
to the unforgiving ground. I earned two matching scrapes on my knees and a new understanding
of what one should do on a concrete surface; she received stitches. In fourth grade I fell off my
bike, an incident that occurs to every bike rider at least once in their lifetime. In my case, knee
pads would have been more helpful than a helmet. Later, in sixth grade, I tripped and fell down
the concrete steps of our front porch. I still have a scar on my right knee from that occasion.
Each time, a concerned bystander, usually my mom, would ask me,
“Are you ok sweetie?” to which I responded with tears. For some reason, a scrape on my
knee hurt more than the road rash on my hands, or the cut on my elbow. Perhaps it was because
this wound took longer to heal. I felt it in every pained step I took. I saw it every time I applied
neosporin and a fresh Band-Aid. And it always left a scar, a reminder of the injury, the pain.
I was nine when I first played for a soccer team, after my mom had signed me up for a
camp which I grudgingly agreed to attend. One of the coaches mentioned my potential to my
mother, and five years later, my life now revolves around it. I believe that my most often used
response to any variety of requests is, “I can’t, I have soccer.”
In an official soccer match, it is required for one to wear cleats with plastic studs, shin
guards, and socks that cover them completely. It is not required, however, for one to wear any
protection for the knee. That would restrict movement, hindering one’s ability to play. Therefore,
my vulnerable knees have been subjected to many, many bruises throughout the years. The
offender was frequently a teammate during practice, and the painful jab would be accompanied
by a hasty, “Sorry!” Nevertheless, there were a few times in games when a particularly nasty girl
would direct her wild kick at my leg, which resulted in a tender mark that would fascinate me by

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changing colors every day. At that moment, if a teammate inquired, “Are you okay?” I would
respond with, “I’m fine” through gritted teeth. It is dejecting for me to realize how people take
for granted their ability to walk without pain in their knees, until they experience it for
themselves.
The knee is the largest joint in your body. It is the bridge between your thigh to the rest of
the leg, connected by cables of ligaments and tendons, enabling it to bend, allowing movement.
If one of these ligaments or tendons is strained, or worse, torn, that mobility is stolen right out
from under your feet. My former teammate experienced this agonizing torment when she tore her
ACL last year. She had to undergo surgery, and wasn't allowed to play for nine months. She is
not alone. Many famous football, basketball, and soccer players have suffered career ending knee
injuries. According to sports medicine Dr. Souryal, there are between 250,000 to 300,000 ACL
injuries per year, the majority being athletes. Almost 300,000 people lose the ability to walk and
run each year. They are confined to a bed, a wheelchair, or if they are strong enough, crutches.
Dependent upon others, forced to watch their friends play their position, win their game, while
they are restricted to the sidelines. Imagine the joy they feel when they take their first steps once
again, regaining their strength, restoring their independence, reviving their spirits.
I learned at a young age that what lends you freedom and ability can also cause equal
pain and suffering. For some, they must lose what they take for granted before they are granted
with the realization of what they lost. I have realized that a person’s knees are among some of the
numerous everyday privileges that they take for granted. Everybody has knees. Even penguins
have knees! We should take advantage of the blessing that allows us freedom and independence;
run away from danger before it can catch up to us, get up from our chairs before we are
permanently confined to them. I appreciate my knees after every practice, every game. They

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permit me to pursue the sport I love, my passion. I hate to employ a grossly overused cliché, but
“carpe diem!” There’s no telling how much longer anything will remain certain. So, seize the
day, before it seizes your knees.