The Comeback of Carter Governale

Carter Governale,
Mill Creek High School Football
Photo Credit: Kate Awtrey, copyright © 2013, www.gwinnetteventphotography.com

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the most feared injuries in all of athletics.  The surgery, treatment and rehab can be a grinding process that takes anywhere from 8-12 months before an athlete can return to their sport. For Mill Creek running back and safety Carter Governale he knows the injury all to well. Governale tore the ACL in his right knee near the end of his sophomore season, went through the extensive rehab process before tearing the same ACL again in fall practice before his junior season.

Now tearing the ACL is tough enough but to do it twice in the same knee within an eight month period will really test ones will and resolve. Governale broke onto the scene during his days standing out in the GFL (Gwinnett Football League) which earned him a selection in the Football University Youth All American Bowl as an 8th grader. The expectations were high for Governale entering high school and he was beginning to live up to them until the injuries hit.

As his teammates made a deep push in the state playoffs last season, Carter was stuck on the sidelines trying to stay as involved as he could be. “It wasn’t hard for me but it wasn’t easy for me having to sit and watch our team win and go to the quarterfinals without me but it was very encouraging.  The coaches had me on the sidelines and signaling in plays or I’d be a decoy. I actually called plays in a couple of games. I know the offense to a tee and can tell you every single play and signal it in. The entire experience has been very humbling”, he said.

Governale has stayed focused on his recovery and is determined to be on the field for the Hawks this fall. “I’ve just been working hard. I’ve been working with Scott Courter at Wellness Performance Institute on my speed and agility and just getting back in shape and getting my leg stronger to get it back to where it was”, Governale said.

Seven months after the second surgery there was Carter, running in a JV track meet for Mill Creek.  Though it was only a JV meet it was much bigger than that for him. Carter went through some light jogging drills and stretching before it was time to run his 100m race. When the gun sounded Governale was out of the blocks and running without signs of an injury and when the race was over he had won with a time of 11.42-his fastest ever. Track is not the sport with all of the cutting and lateral movement required like in football yet it has to be a solid sign for him with a full spring and summer still left to get ready for his senior season of football. “Before, mentally I found myself kind of questioning if I could compete not necessarily with others but with myself. I realize that I’ve still kind of got it and so track, especially today running that time was very encouraging. It’s an awesome feeling. I’m not working to be a track star but to know that the potential is still there and that the hard work is paying off”, he said.

His father, Deric, suffered the dreaded injury as a senior in high school and saw his college options dry up after his injury.  Missing the junior year for a football player can really put a damper on the college recruiting process however the younger Governale is not letting that get him down. “I have my senior”, he constantly reminds himself and anybody that ask him about the recruiting process.  He will participate in spring football although it will be without contact. ”I still have a lot of work to do. The hamstring is still a little weak. They took the tendon from there and used it in the knee the second time. I still feel that even after two knee surgeries I can be even better than I was before. It’s only been seven months but I still have plenty of time to get it stronger and get it stronger than it was before so I’m just excited about the opportunity.”, Carter stated with much confidence in his voice.

Carter has followed the rehab of professional athletes that have suffered the same injury in recent years including Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings and Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls and uses them for encouragement and examples. “Seeing Adrian Peterson succeed it’s been very enlightening. When my rehab may not be going good I do think about him and all the things he went through. It’s not fun but it’ll all be worth it in the end”. With any injury their will come times when the athlete feels they could do more, how does one win the fight to stay the course? Governale summed it up with this, “Watching Derrick Rose, his [injury] is more like a time period thing he’s not rushing he knows his body like me, I know my body better than anyone else does. The doctor could tell me I could go out there and play but I know that waiting a couple more months won’t hurt anything”.

As we move closer and closer to the fall and the beginning of the high school football season, let’s keep an eye on Carter Governale to see how much havoc he will wreck on the field in one of the toughest counties in the nation for high school football.

“Once I make and take the first hit, participate in full contact drills, cut, plant, change directions, make someone miss, catching a pass and all the other stuff then I know everything will begin to start feeling good, but I’m going to wait until August for that. I’m going to use all the time I can to get back fully healthy. I feel like I’m ready to go now honestly but I don’t see any reason to rush it when I have more time to get back to 100%. Nobody has given up on me. My family and coaches have provided me with a great support system. The only one that can give up on me is me”.

In addition Carter will ditch his No.18 jersey for a No.4 jersey for his senior season. “Just to start over. I don’t want to be known as No.18 anymore. No.4 my last year, fourth year, something different and I’m excited about it”.

Story by Joel Hillsman
Photography by Kate Awtrey

Joel Hillsman
Joel is a sports media freelancer covering high school and pro sports since 2009. He is play-by-play announcer and show host for high school football and basketball on NFHS Network covering the southeast and produces game highlights for NBA TV and Turner Sports.

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