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Hart Players Bracing Themselves

February 15, 1996|DANA HADDAD

When Coach Mike May first saw some Hart High boys' basketball players wearing what appeared to be black shin guards around their ankles, he had no idea what they were.

"I told the guys, 'I don't like black socks,' " said May, a stickler for conservative styles.

But this was not a fashion statement, his players explained.

These were hard-plastic ankle braces. They fit around the foot and ankle, inside the shoe, and extend to the shin, where they are wrapped tightly in Velcro.

"The first couple times you wear these things it's the most uncomfortable thing you've ever worn," said Hart player Cory Johnson.

Johnson credits the braces for keeping him healthy after two ankle sprains last year.

None of the four players who use the braces suffered ankle injuries as the Indians (19-7) won the Foothill League championship.

"The guys on our team wouldn't think of going on the court without them," said Johnson, who is wearing his fourth pair.

Johnson, who averages 17 points, bought his first set of braces from his doctor after suffering torn ligaments in his right ankle near the end of the regular season a year ago.

After he sprained his left ankle during the summer, Johnson decided to wear braces at all times.

"It's a big, bulky, ugly-looking thing," he said. "But it helps. And I don't think the guys on our team want to go through the agony of coming back from ligament tears in their ankles."

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