CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — When Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin went down on the field on Monday, the emotion was evident on everyone around him. The good news is Hamlin has showed “remarkable improvement” in his recovery. Hamlin is now awake and communicating through writing. But what is the mental state of an injured athlete or that of his teammates?
“Seeing a teammate get injured definitely, could be a traumatic experience," said psychologist Theresa Sharpe.
When you play sports long enough you’re bound to see your teammate get injured.
Local athletes have been in that situation and describe why it's emotional to see that happen.
ross williams - tamucc basketball graduate student, guard
“When you see something like that, that’s a family member. All these guys on this team are family members. When you see something like that happen to a loved one, it’s definitely hard to continue,” said Ross Williams, a graduate student on the Texas A&M University Corpus Christi (TAMUCC) men's basketball team.
“You’re scared too. Like, you don’t want something like that to happen in sports," Corpus Christi Ice Ray's Eli Reimer said. "You’re going out there to have fun, play the game that we love."
“It’s really sad because you see all the hard work that they put in and then they cannot prove it on the court because (they’re) injured," Bruna Anguera Salvat said, Freshmen for TAMUCC Islanders women's basketball team.
TAMUCC men's basketball player Jalen Jackson said he’s gone through something similar. Earlier in Jackson's life, a friend of his needed to be resuscitated on the court a few times, ultimately leading to his death on the court.
“It’s like one of the scariest things because teammates like your brother. So, to see your brother fighting for his life, that’s a scary feeling,” said Jackson, the senior athlete.
Ice Rays forward Michael Mumm watched a teammate suffer a seizure last year
“He got hit from behind and had a seizure.," said Mumm. "And all we were thinking about , is he ok?... The first thing is like is he ok? Like you’re kind of shocked. So you’re wondering if he’s alright.”
What is the athlete feeling when they're the ones that are injured. All these athletes expressed that there's some sort of frustration not being able to contribute to their team. It's a mental process adjusting to your new role.
"We play sports to compete," Williams said. "And when you're hurt you can't compete. So, it's like you just want to give your team your all and when you're hurt you can't do that. So, it's definitely frustrating, it's definitely a mental warfare."
The way athletes respond, will always vary by person. Sharpe said there are ways to cope that can work for anyone.
“Doing things like spending time with friends and family if they’re experiencing any kind of strong emotion. Talk about it, not keeping it bottled up inside,” said Sharpe, the director of university counseling center at TAMUCC.
Healthy distractions, things they find fun, are helpful too.
“Help them kind of shift their attention and focus on things that can give them maybe a little bit more of a sense of control," she said. "Help them relax or self sooth a little bit."
Below are a list of resources for those that need help.