My name is Alex Baldassarre and I am a Senior thrower on the Track and Field team here at Eastern. I started doing sports when I was 8 years old. I started with soccer, football, and finally my favorite sport track. Throughout my athletic career there have been many ups and downs by competing in prestigious meets, such as the Penn Relays and dealing with terrible injuries. With these ups and downs I was able to grow my faith through sports.
At 12 years old I was faced with the biggest injury of my life. One day at football practice I was playing defense going up against our first opposing offense, while I was going in to make a tackle, all of a sudden I got blindsided and hit on the mid to lower part of my back. I was in a bit of pain but shook it off and continued playing. A few days went by after the hit and my back was giving me some nagging pain everyday so I went to see my doctor and got X-rays. The X-rays came back clear and I was able to return in a week because they said my back was just tight. After the second day of practice, when I came back I had a sharp shooting pain going down from my lower back down to my entire right leg. I was in so much pain that I couldn’t even bend over and untie my shoes. I eventually went back to the doctor and after a month of getting ct scans and MRI’s they found out that I had broke my L4 vertebrae in two spots. The vertebrae shifted forward.
My family doctor told me that I could never play sports again. At that moment my dreams to become a pro athlete were crushed. When my family doctor told me this my parents wanted me to go see a back specialist, so that they could get another opinion. Every night leading up to it I prayed and asked for a second chance so that I can do what I love again. Then when I got to the specialist I saw a man by the name of Dr. James Guille. He took a look at my injury and told me that all I had to do was throw on a brace for a couple months to heal the fractures and I’ll be good to go. When I heard him say that, all I could do was thank God for answering my prayers. After that I had to take the rest of the football season off but then I started track and field. Since then I never stopped.
Once I got to competing in college track and field a lot of good things started to happen. When I first started college at Neumann University I was a sprinter. I did the 100 and the 200 meter races, and set some school records in a couple of relays when I was there. Then I transfered to Eastern which had just started their track program. Our team only had around 25 people on it between men and women. Throughout my time here I have continued to improve my race times and throws technique every year even with injuries causing some setbacks. I was able to compete in the biggest relay event that comes to Philadelphia which is Penn Relays. Teams come from all over the world and compete in this three day event. I was a part of the first Eastern Men’s team to run here which was a great experience. At that time we set the school record for that event and competed against some of the best colleges in the nation.
These experiences have made me realize how grateful I am to still be able to compete at such a high level. I look back on all the injuries I had to overcome, all of the training that I had to put in, and all of the sacrifices that I had to make to be where I am today. These experiences have made my faith grow stronger, and all I can do is thank God every time I compete because he gave me that second chance to accomplish what I did. I look forward to my last year competing and I can’t wait to see what happens.