The 20-year-old w as injured in the 13th minute of Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Finland – a result which saw Michael O’Neill’s men win Euro 2016 qualifying Group F – but played on until the 51st. He spent the night in hospital and an Irish Football Association press officer confirmed to Press Association Sport on Monday that the player will remain in the Finnish capital for another night. Press Association Manchester United defender Paddy McNair is being kept in Helsinki overnight for assessment on an abdominal injury sustained on Northern Ireland duty. The IFA doctor has stayed out with him.
Published on November 1, 2010 at 12:00 pm Contact Rachel: [email protected] Every day was the same for Utah State head football coach Gary Andersen. Get up at 5:45 a.m., drive to work. Take care of academic duties for his team, review film until noon. Take a short break, practice. Take another short break, more film. Return home by 8 p.m., if he’s lucky. Then repeat. Every day, that is, until Sept. 27. Instead of driving to work, Andersen was driven to the emergency room in an ambulance after a blackout and fall that left him with two cracked vertebrae in his neck. The cause? Stress. ‘There’s no question that’s part of it,’ Andersen said. ‘And a lot of it’s self-induced. And for me, personally, I don’t think it’s really a situation of stress of necessarily of winning or losing a football game. I think what it comes down to is managing your day-to-day operations.’AdvertisementThis is placeholder text Andersen’s health issue highlights a disturbing trend among high-profile Division I football and basketball head coaches. In the past year, numerous coaches, from Florida to Michigan State, have dealt with serious health issues relating to the stress that accompanies the rigors of such a demanding occupation. With daily schedules that start at the crack of dawn, recruiting, coaching and dealing with everyday life, coaching a major program is no easy task. Especially if coaches like Andersen aren’t paying enough attention to their well-being. ‘They’re putting in enormous amounts of hours,’ said Tim Neal, the assistant director of athletics for sports medicine at Syracuse University. ‘In addition to that, that cell phone can go off, and there’s some sort of a problem. … They’re in the recruiting, which is very stressful. They’re on the road a great deal. So they do experience a great amount of career stress, and it comes with their career.’ Most find a way to handle everything. Sure, they get stressed. It’s not in the job description, but it’s definitely part of the job. Syracuse head football coach Doug Marrone said the solution is his day-to-day schedule. ‘You just have to be in a good routine,’ Marrone said in his weekly press conference on Oct. 4. ‘When I first went into the NFL, a coach who had coached for more than 30 years (then-SU head coach Dick MacPherson) told me I was never going to last with how I was doing things. He said I had to get into a routine and get my sleep here and get my sleep there. When you get into a routine, then it is better for dealing with stress.’ But for Andersen, the Utah State head coach, the stress finally caught up with him. Lucky for him, his health issue was stress-related and not something more serious or life-threatening. Andersen said he needs to do a better job of taking care of himself. That includes sleeping and eating better, in addition to understanding what to do daily. ‘Just be smarter when it comes to my daily health,’ Andersen said. ‘I’ve educated myself,’ he added, ‘and I’ve listened to doctors and had every test in the world done on me to see if anything was wrong. And there’s really nothing wrong.’ But even though there is no underlying medical issue, stress from the intricacies of the job has proven to be an issue that is often ignored until a major incident occurs. It is an issue that is not taken with the seriousness of other health issues but one that can develop serious consequences. As someone who consistently immerses himself in the health-related issues of players and coaches, Neal sees firsthand the stress that Division I coaches endure. ‘What happens sometimes is everybody feels stress,’ Neal said. ‘Sometimes there may be an underlying problem, such as a heart condition or something else. And when people get stressed without a heart condition, you can feel your chest pound or you can feel your chest get tight. So they dismiss it, thinking it’s just a normal, professional stress, when in fact it could be a heart condition.’ The Syracuse football coaches have physical exams every year because of the stress of the occupation, Marrone said. New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton implemented physicals for his staff, and Marrone, who coached with Payton on the Saints, now does the same at SU. ‘We as coaches, most of us think we’re invincible,’ Marrone said. ‘We’ve played, we’re fine, we’re in great shape, but that was big for Sean, and we all had to go and get these physicals.’ Even if a coach’s physical reveals no heart condition, he or she can still have heart problems arise. Mark Dantonio, the head football coach at Michigan State, had a heart attack on Sept. 18, almost immediately after the Spartans beat Notre Dame on a stunning fake field goal in overtime. And that was after Florida head football coach Urban Meyer nearly resigned following esophageal problems in January. Their issues may not have been solely based on stress, but it could have been a contributing factor, Neal said. Big-time coaches get entrenched in their jobs. Like Andersen, they live, eat and breathe their football or basketball programs, leaving little time for themselves. ‘I absolutely think it was due to stress,’ Andersen said of his blackout. ‘I absolutely believe it was due to the way that I took care of myself. And I think anybody that knows anything about stress, which I knew nothing about prior to the situation, is if you don’t eat right, you don’t sleep right and you don’t take care of yourself the right way, that leads to issues. ‘And stress is one of those issues.’ In charge of 115 lives besides his own, Andersen struggled balancing everything and everyone. Andersen had been putting himself last. But now the Utah State coach is finding a balance. Yes, he still must take care of his players and his program. But he is trying to do both without getting overworked. ‘It comes down to three things for the kids,’ Andersen said. ‘And when I look at the issue that I had, now I sit back and say, ‘How can I help myself?’ ‘Well, I look back and I always try to put the players first — their social lives, their academic lives and their football lives. I need to make sure that I take care of them by having the time to take care of myself.’ So that is what Andersen is doing now. Learning to take care of himself and handle the stress. It doesn’t go away, so he and countless other coaches must learn how to deal with it. That involves exercising, eating healthy and taking time to care for themselves, not just others. ‘Coaches have a tendency to think they’re indestructible, and then they put everything on the backburner to focus on the football team, to focus on winning games,’ Andersen said. ‘And I believe now I know that you can do that and still take care of yourself. And I don’t think I was doing that. ‘So do I hope other coaches will listen and say, ‘Hey, I’m not indestructible, this could happen to me?’ I absolutely hope they do, and not necessarily from what happened to me.’ Dantonio’s heart attack was another shock after his team’s scintillating win over the Fighting Irish. Especially to Dantonio himself. ‘I’ve always been in great health,’ Dantonio told reporters following the incident. ‘You know, that’s just the way it is, I guess.’ But at least there are some coaches like Andersen who are more aware of their situations now. Even if it took him blacking out to realize he needs to slow down. Andersen said he hopes that people in general, in addition to coaches, take these issues to heart. Despite the responsibilities that come with being a big-time college coach, he isn’t ready to say that Division I football and basketball coaches are the only victims of stress. Stress comes up with any job, Andersen said. Not just coaching. ‘I think if you want to be the best at your job, it’s going to be a stressful job,’ he said, ‘because you put so much on yourself, and you expect so much out of yourself.’ Neal agrees that people have to find their own ways to cope with stress. ‘Some handle it well, and some maybe can handle it a little better,’ Neal said. ‘Stress is a fact of life, and people have to develop ways to cope with it within their own dynamic.’ Andersen is doing that now. He’s making daily changes. He’s still getting up at 5:45 a.m. He still has long hours. But little changes like going home earlier and taking an hour to himself are helping him cope. After all Andersen has gone through, he continues to get the message to people and coaches. He’s taking time for himself. ‘Happy to be who I am,’ Andersen said. ‘Hopefully lesson well-learned, and move on.’ [email protected] Comments Facebook Twitter Google+