Brittaney Nealis (‘14) broke her jaw during the intense final minutes of one of the varsity field hockey games earlier this season. As one of her opponents was pulling their stick back, it hit Nealis directly in the jaw. The contact with the stick was hard enough to break her jaw immediately. The intense pain she felt directly after the hit led her into a state of panic.
“I could feel that my teeth were hitting the roof of my mouth so my first thought was to move them back into place,” she said. “After that I just dropped to the floor and started hyperventilating.”
She was pulled off the field and onto the bench and watched her team finish off the game without her.
Her teammate, Maggie Butters (‘14) watched it all unfold. “It was scary seeing her on the bench crying and she just kept asking me if her teeth were still there. She was so worried about losing her teeth.” She said.
“My whole mouth was throbbing and my first concern was that my teeth were messed up. I didn’t want to have to get braces again.” said Nealis.
While she didn’t have to get braces again, her broken jaw was severe enough to need a splint on her teeth for two and a half weeks. During those weeks, she also received a root canal and couldn’t eat solid foods. Those parts of her recovery were hard to deal with, but the hardest part about breaking her jaw was not being able to play alongside her team for two and a half weeks.
“I had to watch my team play Stafford High School and they’re our rivals. We’ve never won on their soil and I just wanted to be out there helping them win.” she said. Nealis went to every practice and watched her team while she was out and they helped her throughout her struggle.
“My team was really supportive. They brought me flowers and just made it a little easier.” she said.
Nealis’ recovery is now complete and she’s playing with her team once again.
“It was kind of scary to go back onto the field after being out. I didn’t want to get hit in the face again,” she said. “I just kind of had to push through it. You can’t be afraid, you just have to play.”