Conditions + Treatments
My name is Charlie Ingram, and I am scheduled to graduate from Vestavia Hills High School in May, 2024.
I was born in Columbia, Missouri, but have called Vestavia Hills home since 2015. That's the year my dad, Mark Ingram, was named UAB's Director of Athletics. I was 10 years old when we moved to Vestavia Hills, and I loved playing baseball and football with my friends from youth sports, travel ball and high school.
When my dad was in college in the mid 1990's, he played football for the University of Tennessee. He was a walk-on player, but he worked very hard to become the Vols two-year starter at long snapper, earning many athletic and academic awards and accolades.
From a really young age, I was always able to throw a football really well. I always wanted to be a quarterback, but my dad never let me throw it with one hand so he always made me turn around and snap it, and I think I realized when I was young I was pretty good at it. So, I guess you could say long snapping is in my blood!
During my sophomore, junior and senior years at Vestavia Hills High School, I had the honor of serving as the Rebels long snapper. I also played fullback and tight end my junior and senior years.
A lot of people ask me about being a long snapper. The long snapper is maybe the most thankless job in all of sports. If everything goes right, nothing is said. However, if you make a crucial mistake everyone knows your name.
As a long snapper, I am essentially involved in two plays during a football game - punts and field goals. I try to treat myself like a robot, doing the exact same thing every time I step onto the field. I am ultra-focused and regimented in everything I do - I take my steps same way, breath the same way, grip the football the same way - all in an effort to repeat the same motion over and over again.
Finally, when I snap the ball, I count how many times the ball rotates before being caught by the punter or holder. On punts, my goal is to do the exact same thing every time - snap the football 15 yards straight back to the punter. On field goals, I hike it back to the holder who is set up 7 yards away. The position of the holder never changes.
Despite finishing the 2022 regular season with a 6-4 record, our Rebels football team had been noted among the most dangerous teams entering the 7A AHSAA state playoffs.
In the first round of the 7A playoffs we go on the road to play Austin High School who finished the regular season with an impressive 7-3 record. Fortunately, we played well in all facets of the game and left Decatur with a 52-10 victory and advanced to the second round of the playoffs.
The next week, Friday, November 11, 2022, we went back on the road to face the 3-time defending state champion, Thompson Warriors. As you'd expect, it was a very physical game. We played really well and it was a one-score ball game as we entered the 4th quarter.
As a team, we were confident we could pull out a victory. We were in the 4th quarter of a tight ball game. The winner would advance to the third round off the playoffs and the losing team’s season is over.
In the final minutes of the game, our offense was driving the ball and we’re in the Thompson red zone. If we score, we'd take the lead and we’re in the position to upset Thompson and win the game. If Thompson keeps us from scoring, they are likely going to win the game and advance to the next round.
Our offense was rolling and we had the ball on the Thompson 11-yard line. One of my buddies, who is our starting fullback, helmet popped off the previous play, so he had to come out of the game for one play. I was substituted into the game to play his fullback position.
With clock ticking down in the 4th quarter, our coaches called a rollout, play-action pass that involved me being the receiver out of the backfield. Our QB called the play and he ran a bootleg and I rolled out with him, so we were running parallel towards the end zone. A Thompson linebacker got between us, so our QB attempted to float the pass over the defender, but he jumped up and punched the ball higher in the air.
In the heat of the play, I’m thinking “if this pass is intercepted, Thompson is taking it back for a pick 6 and this game is over.” Instinctively, I put my left foot in the ground, made a quick change in direction and attempted to grab the floating ball. When I did that, my left knee buckled and simply gave out on me. I was lying on the ground and our athletic trainer and Dr. Chris Carter from Andrews Sports Medicine came out onto the field. They did a couple of tests on the field and within 3 minutes they knew that I had injured my ACL, but they weren’t sure about the extent of my injury.
They help me off the field and they proceeded to take me into the medical tent. So at this point, I’m not in any pain, my adrenaline is pumping and I’m ready to get back on the field. They calmly tell me to relax and the continue evaluating my knee. At some point, Dr. Carter puts his hand on my shoulder and says, “Well, you definitely tore your ACL, but we’re going to make sure you come back from this.” In general, I’m a positive person so I’m like, “I can’t believe I tore my ACL. Wow. Wonderful” so we all had a short chuckle and everything was a blur. Our athletic trainer then gets some ice, I’m laying back on the table disappointed that I’m injured, we’re losing the game, our season’s likely over and I start doubting the possibility of me having a chance to play in college.
My family has known Dr. Jeff Dugas, our Vestavia Hills High School team doctor, for a long time. I 100% trusted him performing my knee surgery. At Dr. Dugas' recommendation, I had to wait 11 days after my injury to have surgery so the swelling in my knee could go down.
Dr. Dugas performed my ACL reconstruction surgery on November 22, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Going into surgery, Dr. Dugas was confident, friendly, made me feel welcomed and extremely comfortable. He knew that I had aspirations of playing football my senior year and at the collegiate level.
Following my surgery, I did all of my physical therapy with Kevin Wilk whose clinic is located in Vestavia Hills. From day one at PT, Kevin was super supportive and encouraging. The first thing Kevin wanted to know was my short-term and long-term goals. I told him my short-term goal was to be back on the football field by August 1, 2023 so I could play my entire senior year. My long-term goal was to play college football like my dad.
We got locked in on my therapy with the whole goal of being back on the field by August 1, 2023 so I could practice with our team in preparation for our first game against our rival - Mountain Brook. Every day I would go to PT with the mentality of "Get ready for Mountain Brook. Get ready for Mountain Brook."
I missed playing baseball for Vestavia Hills that spring, but I was on the bench at all of the games and it was a thrill to experience our team win the 7A ASHSSA state championship. I continued working hard at PT throughout the spring and summer.
On August 1, 2023 I had a much-anticipated appointment with Dr. Dugas. He evaluated my knee and told me the best news I'd heard in a long time. I was 100% cleared to play and could return to the football field. I was pumped!
I got in my car and drove straight to Kevin's clinic and told him the great news. Kevin and my entire PT team was hooting, hollering and high-fiving me. They were thrilled for me and I was relieved that I was going to be able to start practicing with my team as we prepared to open our 2023 season with Mountain Brook on August 24.
We opened the season with a 35-10 victory over Mountain Brook. Our team had one of our best seasons in a long time. We finished our 2023 season with an 9-3 record, with two regular season losses against Hewitt-Trussville and Thompson, and losing again to Thompson in the second round of the playoffs.
My senior football season was great. My knee felt great the whole season and not once did I worry about I was going to hurt it again. We beat some teams we had beaten in a few years, and I felt like I grew as a leader because a lot of guys looked up to me for overcoming my injury for the year before.
After the season was over, I turned my attention towards where I wanted to attend college. I was very fortunate to have a couple of offers to play college football, which I am very grateful. On December 20, 2023, I officially committed to play football at Mississippi State University.
I am now enjoying my final semester of high school, and look forward to graduating from Vestavia Hills High School in May, 2024. In the meantime, I'm working hard to get in great shape as I prepare to become a student-athlete in Starkville this fall.