• Concussion affects life off the field

    By Mitchel Summers, Kaveh Kardan & Dorothy Sedovic

    Columbia, Mo – Alex Schmitz noticed something was off with her studies after her first concussion. Her symptoms included more than just headaches and dizziness.

    “I remember I couldn’t concentrate like I usually would in class. I’m usually fairly into my work and I’m fine. I can stay like that,” said Schmitz, a member of the Women’s Club Soccer team at the University of Missouri.

    Schmitz sustained a concussion playing soccer her sophomore year of high school. Her parents were concerned about her performance in school.

    She is not the only one who found difficulty getting back to normal after a concussion.

    The Missouri State High School Activities Association reported 3.4 percent of high school female soccer players suffered from a head injury during the 2014-2015 school year. That is the second highest percentage in high school sports, after football.

    The association reported 368 days of classes were missed due to concussions and head injuries.

    Bailey Godat, another member of the Women’s Club Soccer team, sustained two concussions during her senior year. She had to work with her teachers in order to ensure she would graduate.

    Shalynn Thomas, Right, heads the ball with Bailey Godat as they run drills before their game on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015. Both women are members of the University of Missouri Women’s Club Soccer team who was playing against Washington University in St. Louis.

    Shalynn Thomas, Right, heads the ball with Bailey Godat as they run drills before their game on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015. Both women are members of the University of Missouri Women’s Club Soccer team who was playing against Washington University in St. Louis.

    “I’m used to being a good student doing everything, and it was just like Boom, you couldn’t do it. And as hard as you tried and try and focus everything was blurry. You can’t focus at all,” she said.

    Xander Kennedy, Stephens College’s head soccer coach and student advisor, said that it is necessary for schools to build their understanding on how to handle concussion cases similar to Godat’s.

    “For better or worse, as concussions continue to happen, I think that the school and every school and every organization will move towards really having a full understanding and policy in place” said Kennedy.

    Concussions take a toll on students’ playing time, too. According to the MSHSAA, female soccer students missed 3,310 days of practice during the last school year due to the mandated protocol.

    “Once they are symptom free, then they have to do a run day. If they are still symptom free, then the next day they do some change in position in running. The next day is non-contact sports drills and they progress into physical contact sports drills before they can go back to a game situation.” said Stephanie West, a certified athletic trainer for Peak Sports and Spine stationed at Hickman High School in Columbia.

    Depending on the severity of their concussions, student athletes can miss most of their season. For those athletes, missing practices and games are crucial. It means they do not get to participate in the sport that is so integrated into their lifestyle.

    “I’ve played soccer competitively my entire life. So for me to just not do it or not go in 100% would be like why am I even playing,” said Schmitz

    Schmitz could not participate for a month, and couldn’t even take part in PE at school.

    Godat’s concussions benched her for the entire season her senior year. At the time she was upset about missing out, but now she is grateful for the recovery.

    “I wasn’t realizing that, it wasn’t that big of a deal, because in the end, I need my brain for the rest of my life,” Godat said. “I shouldn’t just put it in jeopardy for my senior year of high school soccer. Hopefully, I’m fine now.”

    Student athletes must ask themselves if their sport warrants the risk of a concussion.

    “You kind of see the other side of it almost and maybe it’s not worth it,” Schmitz said.

     

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    Tony Peng is supervising editor. Mark Hinojosa is faculty editor.

    ----------Posted on January 4, 2016 by in Student Work

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