The shift from learning the game to win-at-all costs in youth sports has resulted in kids dropping out at an alarming rate. In support of Project Play, an Aspen Institute initiative supported by leading organizations helping to get and keep kids playing sports, we asked a few of our physicians to share their experiences as youth athletes and how they have impacted their abilities as physicians.
In our next installment, learn more from HSS hand and upper extremity surgeon Dr. Duretti Fufa, who competed in cross-country and track and field:
When did you start competing in cross-country and track and field?
I started competing in cross country and track and field during my freshman year in high school.
What interested you the most about the sport?
What interested me the most was the challenge of pushing my physical limits.
Why did you continue competing?
After running for the team in college, I continued competing when I moved to Taiwan as there were a lot of road races which I found to be fun and a way for me to stay fit.
What impact did it have on your life?
The sport of track and field taught me perseverance and how to push my physical limits. It also taught me leadership skills and strongly influenced my serving as captain during my senior year of college.
Where did pressure come from and how were you able to overcome it?
Managing stress and pressure are skills we need to develop from an early age. As an individual sport, pressure in running is largely self-driven. The pressure comes from within as much as from the outside and that helps build self-reliance and resiliency.
What lessons learned when playing did you apply as a hand and upper extremity surgeon?
I attribute my ability to remain mentally focused during long and challenging surgeries, which parallels to the challenges of long cross country races.
For young athletes, what is the importance of activity in your opinion?
As a female, sports participation was essential in building my self-confidence. It was an avenue I was able to be successful and be recognized. Running is also a lifelong sport that has helped me stay fit to this day.
What advice would you give to encourage kids to continue to play sports/stay active?
Sports were one of the biggest gifts of my childhood. They allowed me to become a collegiate athlete, keep fit, and adopt healthy habits from early on.
Dr. Duretti Fufa is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in hand surgery with additional expertise in reconstruction and microsurgery. With unique training in both orthopedic and plastic surgery, Dr. Fufa’s interests range from fractures and common hand and wrist problems to complex wound coverage, limb salvage and post-trauma functional enhancement.