The Unfortunate Incident That Afflicted Our Science Teacher

Mr. Alex sets the story straight about his injury over winter break


Madison Hanna

Mr. Gregg Alex working at his desk. He is happy to be back at school.

On New Year’s Day this year, Mr. Gregg Alex decided to ring in 2020 with a game of pickleball. He never could have anticipated what would happen that day while participating in one of his favorite hobbies though. When Alex lunged to hit a Wiffle ball, he suddenly fell to his knees on the gym floor of the Treehouse Athletic Club. Alex tore his Achilles tendon.

“I had what they called a ‘clean break’, so mine was completely severed,” Alex explained, “It felt like someone whacked me in the back of the heel with a bat. I thought someone hit me with a ball, so I fell down and I was like ‘Who hit me, who hit me?!’ The guy I was playing with was like, ‘You just snapped your Achilles.’ And he ended up being right,” he said. “Happy New Year!” Alex joked.

Mayo Clinic
This graphic displays what an Achilles tendon tear looks like. “The Achilles tendon is a strong fibrous cord that connects the muscles in the back of your calf to your heel bone. If you overstretch your Achilles tendon, it can tear (rupture).” – Mayo Clinic Staff

Though he described the initial pain as a “seven” out of ten, Alex was frustrated more than anything. “I was so mad because I was having so much fun and I did not want to stop playing!” he said.

Alex learned a lot about the injury after experiencing it himself. “It’s really random, but it happens over years of wear,” he explained, “I did have a lot of ankle injuries when I was in high school playing football. My doctor said once it’s going to go, I could’ve been walking down the street, it didn’t matter.”

Alex was put on bed rest for a week after having surgery to repair the tear. However, this did not slow him down. He got creative so that he could keep teaching his Earth Science and AP Environmental Science classes during the week he missed in January.

“I taught from the couch. I used Google Hangouts. The sub put the presentation up on the TV and I just talked through the TV,” he explained, “I would lecture for ten minutes or something like that and then she [the substitute teacher] would give them an assignment,” Alex said. “I could watch the students through her computer camera. I even gave out a few detentions for kids who weren’t behaving,” Alex laughed.

Alex certainly kept his spirits up even though the process of recovery made him restless. “I was in a boot for six weeks,” Alex said. “I’m a type-A personality, so it was really hard for me to not push it. It was really hard to stay in bed. It was really hard to wear the boot for six weeks,” said Alex.

“Even at the end, I was like ‘Okay, I’m done.’ so I quit wearing the boot,” he explained, “It was hard because it just didn’t hurt,” Alex said. He got the boot off on Monday, February 17.

Mrs. Jeri Butler was Alex’s substitute teacher. “…She was great. One of my classes made her cry on her last day subbing for me. My wife brought her a bouquet of flowers,” Alex said.

“It is always a little more difficult to sub a class for a week or more as opposed to one or two days,” Butler explained, “Mr. Alex had things planned out well so the students were great about staying on task,” said Butler.

“My main role was to get the class started and then connect with Mr. Alex through the computer,” she explained, “Mr. Alex never showed his face but the class loved it when he showed his pet rabbits,” said Butler.

She was happy to have more time with the students though. “I was able to get to know some of the students better because I had them in class consecutive days,” Butler finished.

Senior Kristi Deffner is in Alex’s AP Environmental Science class and claims his online lectures were successful. “It actually went okay without him there, the lectures he did over Skype kept us pretty on track,” said Deffner. “It’s been better with him here because it’s easier to ask questions and follow what we are covering in class,” Deffner finished.

Absolutely…I’m not afraid of pickleball. It can happen to anybody.

— Mr. Gregg Alex

When asked if he would ever play pickleball again, Alex replied “Absolutely…I’m not afraid of pickleball,” he said, “It [the injury] can happen to anybody.”
“I still had vacation left, I still had a week, and it’s just like, ‘Why did this happen to me?! I’m in good shape, I do yoga!’” Alex said, “I guess you’ve just got to take the good with the bad.”