BIDDEFORD, Maine (BVM) — Entering his junior year at the University of New England, star wide receiver Cobey Johnson has always found success on the football field. Fans packed Blue Storm Stadium to see the 6-foot-2 wideout make highlight catches, not knowing that he was suffering from a long-term ailment.
Cobey played an essential role in the Nor’easters during the 2019 season. In the sixth game of the season, against Husson University, Cobey was able to haul in 151 reception yards. Adding to the 807 yards he had in total for the season. Johnson also had six touchdowns on the year.
But, before he stepped onto the famous blue turf, Cobey played football for the Fryeburg Academy Raiders. And in 2016, Cobey’s junior year, he dislocated his shoulder after being tackled. After looking more closely at the injury, it was determined that Johnson tore his labrum, a common injury when an athlete dislocates their shoulder. But, being the team player he is, he didn’t take any time off.
“I actually played the following week after I dislocated my shoulder initially, and I was very hesitant to take hits and didn’t play as aggressively as I normally would,” Johnson said.
Along with the physical challenge of not being 100%, he also dealt with mental challenges the injury presented. For an athlete like Cobey, not being able to move the way he once did, it was hard to come to terms with and fully understand why this was happening.
Even up until this point, Cobey has played with an injured shoulder, sometimes keeping him from playing as hard as he usually would.
“The biggest reason I have kept playing is the pressure I feel that is placed upon me because of the role I play on the team,” Johnson said. “My love and passion have always outweighed my well being.”
Cobey went on to say that everyone takes a risk when they decide to play the game of football. That’s why Cobey has felt the need to play, especially when he is capable of performing at a high-level on the field.
As a wide receiver, he needs a wide range of motion sometimes to complete some difficult or out of reach throws. It has been exhausting for Cobey to be using his shoulder for these tougher catches continuously. Through the years of the practices and games he has had, he now has methods for taking care of his shoulder during and after the season.
“Prior to practices and games, I usually get KT tape around my shoulder, and I would heat my shoulder before putting on my brace under my pads,” Johnson said.
Even with all these treatments and hard work, Cobey would still dislocate his shoulder in games and practices. When he would dislocate his shoulder again, he would have to step out of the game. But his team was always winning by a large margin, so he was not worried about missing any key plays. It would also not make sense for him to push an injury in a game that was already practically won.
Fast forward to his playing days at UNE, the injury was not getting better. And with Nor’easters 2020 season now on hold, Johnson figured now would be the best time to get his shoulder repaired.
After having shoulder surgery, Cobey has been resting and in a recovery sling. He still attends practices, but he is anxious and ready to get back to action. He understands that this recovery will take time and patience, he is willing to wait the time that it takes. He has received a lot of help and care from the athletic training staff at the University of New England. And help from the Fryeburg Academy athletic training staff as well for the original injury he suffered.
Along with athletic trainers, Coach Mike Lichtin, the head football coach at UNE, and Brian Razak, the head athletic trainer, have helped Cobey along with the recovery process.
And going beyond the UNE grounds, Cobey’s family, especially his mother, has been his biggest crutch through this recovery period.
“My family, specifically my mother, were the ones who were on me to get the surgery in the first place,” Johnson said. “They always helped me see the full picture in life, a life without football. For them, I am thankful because I have such a tunnel vision when it comes to football.”
As Cobey continues to recover from shoulder surgery, he is looking forward to the upcoming season in 2021, and he remains upbeat and focused on the time he has to relax and get healthy.
“I needed the rest,” Johnson said. “Thankfully, the four weeks have been going by fairly quickly. One more week and no more sling, so I’ll be back in no time!”