FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Donning the number 84, junior Tre Watson has been turning heads on the field since his freshman year.
The Fresno State tight end is explosive as he blocks or catches passes downfield, showing no signs of old injuries.
"I had two ankle surgeries just in 2022," he said. "But we got through it with rehab, rest, recovery, things like that."
Watson has been putting in work on the gridiron for 15 years now. But prior to that, his love for sports started on the basketball court.
He enjoyed being a multi-sport athlete, but looking back, Watson now realizes he was working his body just a little too hard.
"As you get older, you learn that your recovery is just as important as the work you're putting in," he said. "Looking back, if I could tell people younger than me that are going through the same thing, I would say listen to your body and rest and recover."
It's common for junior high and high school athletes to overtrain, according to Dr. Kerry Loveland, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Valley Children's Healthcare.
"Over half of all injuries, in general, in the youth population, occur during practice," says Dr. Loveland.
She stresses the importance of warming up and stretching before an intense practice and doing a cooldown right after.
Another suggestion, which isn't always a popular one among young athletes or their families, is avoiding sports specialization, which is year-round training in one sport.
"If you're a 12-year-old sitting in my office because you have elbow problems from pitching on four different teams throughout the year, you're not even going to make it into high school, let alone college," Dr. Loveland said.
If a young athlete makes it to collegiate sports, the pressure to play well increases.
Watson and Dr. Loveland say it's even more important to find time to rest and take every ache or pain seriously.
"Pushing through the pain or walking it off is never a good idea until you've been seen by a healthcare professional who has had a chance to evaluate the injury," Dr. Loveland said.
"When something's bothering you, get it looked at -- whether that's a blister, as small as a blister, up to a sprained ankle," Watson said. "Get it looked at. Get it checked out."
Watson spent a year recovering from his surgeries.
He says it was tough, but he's excited to be back playing alongside his Bulldogs.
He now knows that rest is productive, especially when it comes to having a long, successful sports career.