Debt of Gratitude
June 26, 2019
High school wrestling is seldom considered a team sport.
The matches themselves are between two opponents who weigh virtually the same, but Ken and Tanya Woods will be the first to tell you that the secret to success on the mat is a team that includes a supportive family, a strategy-minded coach and a skilled and committed athletic trainer.
The Woods would know. Their son, Colton, just graduated from Darlington School as a four-time state wrestling champion and an All-American in the sport. He’ll be a cadet at the United States Air Force Academy in the fall and will be wrestling for the Falcons when he gets there. While Colton certainly has demonstrated athleticism, skill and commitment to his sport, Colton and his dad attribute a large part of his success to the behind-the-scenes athletic training work of Donny Brown, an ATC for Floyd Physical Therapy & Rehab, who is assigned to Darlington.
“We owe this guy just a debt of gratitude,” Ken said of Donny.
After winning a state wrestling title as a freshman, Colton came back his sophomore year determined to repeat, but a meniscus tear that year threatened to cost him his dream. Donny trained Colton from the moment he was injured and throughout his recovery. He coordinated appointments with an orthopedist, helped schedule diagnostic tests and continually advised Colton throughout the healing process.
Colton recovered, and successfully defended his state title his sophomore and junior seasons.
With three state-championships under his belt, Colton set a goal to be one of the rare grapplers to hold four state wrestling titles, but a serious preseason injury put his dream, and potentially a Division 1 scholarship, in jeopardy.
Colton was on the mat when he suffered what appeared to be a catastrophic injury. The first name on Ken’s mind was “Donny.”
Ken called the athletic trainer, who responded with a series of questions designed to get the best information possible to formulate a quick course of action. Was the match recorded? Donny wanted to see the injury when it happened. Where was Colton hurting? What did the injury look like? After watching the replay, Donny instructed Ken to take Colton to the emergency room. While enroute, Donny spoke with Colton’s orthopedist. A broken bone could put Colton’s femoral nerve at risk.
Donny coordinated care instructions and communications between Colton’s family and his physicians, gathering x-rays and photos so the surgeon, who was on a Labor Day dove hunt, could advise next steps. X-rays showed Colton had severely torn his medial collateral ligament (MCL). He would need expert treatment if he was going to wrestle again this season. That holiday weekend, Donny met the Woods at school every day, assessing the damage and prescribing immediate treatment and therapy, rather than lose precious time.
Donny and Colton continued to work together that September and October, meeting two or three days each week to help Colton heal properly, preserve his strength and maintain his flexibility and agility.
The work paid off. Colton wrestled his senior season, advancing to the regional tournament, only to be injured again. A serious injury at the qualifying tournaments can cost a wrestler a title. Knowing this, the Woods again turned to Donny, who acted immediately. He checked Colton’s leg and got him into an ice bath quickly. He snugly wrapped Colton’s injured ankle. The next day, Colton was ready for competition. His success at that tournament set the stage for him to advance to sectionals and on to state where he once again walked away as champion.
“Donny always been and still is our go-to guy,” Ken said. “We will never be able to repay what he has done for our son and our family. Had we not been fortunate enough to have our trainer, this would have played out very differently.”
Proud of his son’s accomplishments, and thankful for Donny’s role in Colton’s success, Ken turned to Facebook to sing Donny’s praises:
Every athlete and coach would tell you the same … if you could only have ONE person in your corner, on the sidelines or in the dugout, it would be Donny Brown … hands down THE BEST at what he does. Donny, thank you for everything.
Ken’s words were liked and shared and drew several comments from his social media friends, but the gold medal in this story may well be Donny’s response:
Your words are too kind. It has been a pleasure watching Colton develop as a wrestler, but more importantly as a human being, a young man. He is an awesome wrestler, but a better person. I know you two are proud. I am.”