Football player Shaqual Chambers lost part of his right arm after an ATV accident but has worked his way back to the field.

SOUTHERN PINES — After losing part of his right arm after an ATV accident, Pinecrest football player Shaqual Chambers was determined to rejoin his team.

It wasn’t the playing time or the spotlight that Chambers was chasing, but the Patriots’ camaraderie.

“I didn’t really expect to play, but that’s not what I was focused on,” Chambers said. “I was focusing on being with my brothers. Just being with the coaches and the players. I didn’t want to isolate myself in this situation.”

Not only did Chambers return to the Pinecrest roster, the senior made it back to the field, lining up for the Patriots at wide receiver Oct. 5 against Purnell Swett.

It was a long way from where Chambers was several weeks ago.

Chambers and four of his friends were riding ATVs on Aug. 25 in Moore County, a near-weekly occurrence for the group.

“I’ve been riding ATVs since I was 10,” Chambers said. “I’m always a safe driver. I don’t do anything that’s attempting to be a daredevil. I stay in my lane.”

But on this day, Chambers said he misjudged the size of a hole on a back road, which caught his right front tire and pitched the ATV forward.

“I got launched out and in the midst of me getting launched out, my instinct was to try to catch myself,” he said. “When I put my hand out, I’m not sure what happened. I think I shattered my elbow.”

Chambers said he was conscious while waiting to be airlifted to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, where he underwent surgery to amputate his right arm at the elbow.

He said he was conscious for most of the wait prior to the surgery and was aware that the arm would be taken.

“I knew what it meant for the future,” Chambers said. “I just had to get myself ready to move forward.”

It was during that time that Pinecrest coach Chris Metzger arrived at Chapel Hill. He found Chambers in positive spirits, and in keeping with his natural personality, more concerned about his teammates than he was himself.

“At that point, they thought they were going to have to remove the whole arm,” Metzger said. “Just to see the way he was responding under these circumstances. He said, ‘Coach, I’m going to be OK. I’m worried about my brothers.’ ”

While he might have been out of town, he wasn’t out of the mind of his teammates. The Patriots made trips to see Chambers as the hospital and wore SHAQ stickers on their helmets.

Rodney Evans, Chambers’ cousin and a defensive lineman for the Patriots, said the team drew inspiration from Chambers’ determination.

“It brought us closer as a team because we realized every day you get to live an opportunity, you get to spend with your brothers out here,” Evans said. “We think of it as a brotherhood. One day it’s going to end, and we won’t see a lot of these players everyday.”

Chambers spent about two weeks in Chapel Hill before returning to Southern Pines. It was another week before he started back to school at Pinecrest.

Getting back on the field was a matter of hard work and accepting just as much push from his teammates as any other player.

“I try to encourage everyone to go hard,” Chambers said. “I tell them that I’m going to try to work harder than you, so we’ll both work harder to achieve our goals.”

Chambers embraced his job as a role player on special teams and defense for the Patriots as a junior, but he’d steadily gained some opportunities on offense this season.

While getting the call at receiver might have been a step forward, it was, more importantly, a step back toward being just another player.

“It just felt normal,” Chambers said. “It felt like I was doing my job.”

 

Staff writer Jaclyn Shambaugh can be reached at jshambaugh@fayobserver.com or 910-609-0651.