Persevering Through Adversity: Ben Mackey


Torn MCL, 50 stitches in your head, torn meniscus.  Wait, football is supposed to be fun.  

Ben Mackey, a senior at VHS, has suffered the worst and the best of VHS football. He was part of a state championship team, but has also been victim to some of the sport’s worst injuries over the past two years, and it has taken a toll on his football career. 

Ben has been playing football since he was eight and has had a passion for the sport ever since. Like many fathers and sons do, Ben and his dad would spend time together watching Sunday football.  Naturally he was bound to join the Verona Eagles in second grade. He played every year after until a run of bad luck that began in his junior year. It started in the spring when he battled a torn meniscus.  In the fall of that same year, his back leg got crushed in the midst of a tackle and not till days later, after an MRI, did he realize his MCL was torn. 

74,000 athletes face MCL injuries every year. There are  prevention exercises and techniques to help minimize your chances of this injury, but Ben was aware all all sports come with a risk.  After a speedy three-week recovery, Ben was willing to take that risk again. 

 Luck did not seem to be in his favor.  In his first game back from his MCL tear, as he was rushed to the hospital after his helmet was torn off and a cleat ripped through his head. Blood was gushing from his head and covered the field. 

“I didn’t even know what happened, it’s like I was numb to the pain in the heat of the moment and all I saw was blood,” Mackey explains. He received 50 stitches in his forehead which he would then break open again in the next week and have to go back to the hospital. Mackey’s advice to any athletes who may be going through his situation is “to be patient with the process” because coming back too soon can be dangerous and he obviously learned that the hard way. 

While Ben’s case was unique, football is the second ranked sport in causing serious injuries to its participants. 54 percent of high school football athletes get hurt within their football career.

“Mentally I have to go out there every day knowing I could get hurt, and that the practice will be hard, but I push through and do it anyway,” says Ben. He says that with each injury his mental toughness grows and although what he is doing is dangerous his desire and love for the sport allows him to keep playing. 

“When you play a sport,” says Ben, “especially football, you dump all of your energy, all of your time and commitment into the team. Players are constantly putting their body out on the line each week, enduring the physical pain it takes to push at each practice and game.”

With all of the lows come the highs. During Ben’s sophomore season, the VHS team had an undefeated record and went on to play at MetLife stadium, and won the state championship. This was an ultimate high that no one on the team could forget and even a better reminder of what you are working for each day at practice. 

“The coaches and players develop a close bond throughout each season and football has brought me my closest friends,” Ben says.  Ben believes his experience shows that it’s important to get back up again when you fall, when you’re down – to learn to keep going and learn to push forward.

Perseverance is key in not just football, not just sports but within every hardship and challenge you face throughout your life.