By Steve Roth
Injuries are part of the game for a lot of athletes at Elon and Junior outfielder Niko Fraser has seen his fair share.
“A little over three weeks ago we were playing at Furman and I was playing center field,” Fraser said. “I think it was the fifth inning and there was a line drive hit over my head and I started running back. The warning track from what I recall was pretty small and I was closing in on the ball and I went to dive for it and I dove head first into the fence.”
The trainer then rushed out onto the field to administer concussion tests to Fraser. Despite his head crashing into the fence, he did not black out on the play so he wasn’t sure how severe the injury was.
“They [Furman] hit a pop fly to me,” he said, “and while the ball was in the air, I started yelling to Jake Luce, ‘I have no idea where I’m throwing it!’”
Fraser was immediately taken out of the game once he began showing signs of a concussion. He soon got dizzy and began feeling sick. But it wasn’t until he was taken out of the game and was seated on the bench that he was convinced that he had a concussion.
“While I was sitting there kind of fuzzy, not quite sure if I had one [concussion] or not,” Fraser said, “there was a bat that was propped up right next to me, and a bag hit it and it kind of did a domino-effect. The barrel of the bat hit me in the temple and that kind of sealed the deal.”
Fraser admits he isn’t one to shy away from making the big play.
“Most of the time, I don’t really heed caution or walls or anything in the outfield,” he said. “I kind of just see ball, and run.”
Though Fraser puts everything he has on the line for his team, he still feels the concussion symptoms weeks later from his dive.
“I wake up in the morning and forget that I have a headache,” he said. “Then I’ll walk to the bathroom or go to take a shower, and then all of the sudden it will start banging a little bit. I know whenever I’m in the sun for an extended period of time, my head just starts throbbing.”
The outfielder believes that even though he is not healthy enough to play, it’s still important to be with the team in the dugout when they have a game. However, even watching baseball has produced problems.
“You try to follow the baseball and you start to get dizzy a little bit, and if it’s hot out, you’ll start to get light-headed,” Fraser said. “The noise of a bat will start ringing in your ears. I feel like there’s a little drummer in my head sometimes.”
He said he’ll often need to stand next to the more quiet players during games to prevent headaches and other symptoms from returning. However, Fraser says that sitting out isn’t all bad.
“You can talk to the freshmen and try to teach them things going on in the game,” he said. “Reading a pitcher’s move or knowing the count or knowing just how the game works.”
Nonetheless, Fraser admits that sitting out with an injury is “absolutely miserable”. And he is certainly no stranger to sitting out with concussions. Including his high school career, Fraser has had a total of five concussions. He said that because of how many he’s had, there’s really no way to predict what the symptoms will be or how intense they will become.
Perhaps the toughest part of this specific injury would be its effect on other areas of college life.
“I pride myself on my studies,” Fraser said, “so it’s really chopped out baseball and school. So it’s been an all-encompassing injury.”
In the end, Fraser will continue to sit out until he is healthy enough to return, and the time being, he can only cheer on his teammates as they approach the Southern Conference Tournament on May 23.