Student Viewpoint: Staying involved, despite injury

Editor’s note: Connor Williams is a senior at Cardinal Newman High School and plans to study journalism in college. If you are, or know of, a student at any North Coast school who is interested in writing a Student Viewpoint for PD Preps, please contact Eric Wittmershaus at eric wittmershaus [at] pressdemocrat [dot] com.


Ambitious children grow up looking for that one, big break to prove to the rest of the world that they are important. For Cardinal Newman High School senior Helen Moses Happ, that big break happened to her during a weeknight basketball game when she was knocked over and landed hard on her wrist. She fractured the bone connecting her wrist to her thumb, resulting in a broken senior season.

Happ recently took time to answer some questions about her lost senior season and her Cardinals teammates.

How long have you been playing basketball?

I’ve been playing basketball since the 2nd grade, starting with the Boys and Girls Club, then CYO with St. Francis and finally AAU with Pacific Storm before I got into high school. I played JV my freshman year and then on varsity my sophomore and junior year. This year I was expecting to get more playing time compared to last year’s season.

What was your first thought after you broke your wrist?

I didn’t really think about it. I had hurt it a few weeks earlier in a game, so I thought I had just aggravated the initial injury. When the game finished and I was walking into the locker room, the pain just popped in my head and it hurt more than before. The following days were depressing though. The doctors told me I would wear a cast up past my elbow for six to eight weeks and advance to a forearm cast for three months. Knowing I would miss the rest of my senior basketball season and my last softball season was a big shock.

What do you miss most about playing basketball?

I miss practices, games, the pregame walk-throughs, getting food with my team, and the pregame songs that we listen to, complete with dance moves. There’s so much I miss.

Why do you like playing sports?

The competition and adrenaline of a game is just amazing. I live off it. The playing as a team, making the extra pass to hit an open three, the high fives after every free throw. I like playing in front of my family, especially my dad, as he is my biggest fan.

How have you been helping your team since the injury?

I try not to miss a single thing. I still attend every practice and every game. I’m still captain and I talk from the bench just as much as I did on the court.

Q: What do you plan on doing over the next couple of months in a cast?

I want to get healthy as fast as I can. I won’t last four months in a cast because I’m far too active. I tried going for a run the other day and it worked until my arm got too heavy. I’m considering surgery to put a pin in my wrist which would lower the recovery time.

Talking with Helen has been arguably my most important interview to date. It’s crucial for student athletes to hear about people like Helen, whose amateur sports career was cut short by something very realistic: an injury. It can happen to anyone, anywhere, yet most high school athletes don’t think about it as a possibility. Helen is making the best of her situation and is an example of how to remain positive, regardless of setbacks.