The Agony of Injury

Since last November, every member of the Stingers football team had to have had their sights set on making up for that heartbreaking loss in Quebec City, when the Stingers’ drive for the Dunsmore Cup was stopped by the Laval Rouge et Or, for the second year in a row. There is no doubt that game was still fresh in Bryan Charleau’s mind. After a stellar season which saw the safety achieve 37 solo tackles and a team-leading four interceptions, Charleau was named Special Teams Player of the Year. Any player who is as passionate about the game of football, as Charleau is, would want to only improve on those already impressive statistics.
Unfortunately for the Simcoe, Ont. native, the Stingers’ black and white track suit is the only uniform he has worn this entire season. Since day one, he has been forced to watch his teammates struggle to keep their heads above water and celebrate their late-season resurgence, all from the sidelines. Charleau’s season ended before it even began when his knee gave out during spring training. He was later diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, an injury that many football players are all too familiar with. A torn ACL isn’t something you can ignore or walk away from. Recovery sometimes requires invasive surgery, which is exactly what Charleau needed.
“When I realized I was going to have to miss the season, it was very difficult at first. But once reality set in, I knew I just had to get better and not rush into getting back,” he said.
Clearly, injury isn’t always easy to deal with for an athlete and Charleau admits that the bench isn’t the best place to be during a football game.
“It’s frustrating. You want to be out there with the guys. When you’re used to being with them during the struggles and the good times, looking from the outside in is very difficult.”
Like many of the other injured players on the Stingers team (and there are too many to name here), Charleau has turned his frustration into a learning experience for both himself and his fellow athletes. Rather than stick his hands in his pockets and do nothing, Charleau stays involved with the team by attending every practice, every home game and every road trip in order to encourage his team and hand out constructive criticism wherever he sees fit. For Bryan, it’s not about putting down his teammates; it’s about giving back the help he got from the veterans he faced when he was just starting out as a Concordia Stinger in 2006.
“When I think I can help a younger player out, I do. I hope they understand that I’m doing it for the best. You can’t get in there and suit up with them, but these are little things you can do to help out,” he said.
Despite trying to help his team during its final push for a playoff spot this year, Charleau still has his sights set on next season and a possible future in professional football. Currently enrolled in human relations with a minor in marketing, getting a proper education seems to be priority number one for Charleau, as it probably should be for any athlete in university. Although every member of the Stingers football team competes hard day in and day out, the reality is that most will pursue a career outside of sports after their eligibility is up. Nevertheless, Bryan wouldn’t mind getting noticed by scouts come next September.
“If I can attract the attention of a CFL team, that’d be great. I would definitely take the opportunity if it came,” he said.
But Charleau also doesn’t seem comfortable looking that far ahead. For him, living in the present (or the not-too-distant future ) is a better fit. Finishing his degree and getting his team to the Vanier Cup are the goals he has set for himself.
“I want to help Concordia win. Right now, I’m a Stinger. I’m not looking ahead to a different team,” he said.
For now, Charleau will have to settle for about three more months of recovery before getting back to practicing with his team. He has received tremendous support from his coaches, teammates, and family- especially his brother, whom Bryan credits as the man who got him into football and his biggest inspiration. Thanks to them, the road to recovery may not be as long as it seems.


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