I’d go back


Colette Cloutier

It’s no question that concussions pose a serious threat to athletes of all sports in today’s society, and as more research is done on the topic, more short and long term side effects are being revealed, greatly affecting the opinions of many. With the constantly increasing level of play due to both players as well as new technology and equipment, injuries such as concussions have become much more common and even more detrimental.

Kari Grandstaff, a recent Novi High School graduate, has suffered severely over the last several years from sport inflicted head trauma. Grandstaff, an extremely active teen who also excelled in the classroom was faced with many obstacles that prevented her from easily slipping back into the normal, day-to-day life she led before her injury.

After hearing of occurrences like Grandstaff’s where athletes are seriously harmed or set back in not only athletics, but also all other aspects of their life because of a concussion, it may seem like a logical decision to both parents and players to distance oneself from activities that could lead to serious injuries and if not at this point, at least when one experiences a concussion or two of their own, right? No.

I am here as an active student athlete to tell you that it is not that easy. I am here to tell you that concussions couldn’t stop me. I am here to tell you that I would go back. While some may call it immaturity, ignorance, or even just being stubborn, I don’t. I call it heart, I call it dedication, I call it passion. When something means so much to you, it’s next to impossible to let it go without a fight even if it may be for the best. Journalist Ms. Joanna Gerstner said, “If sports are all you identify with, if that’s taken away, what do you have?” After hearing Gerstner’s comment, it’s no wonder we often hear of injured professionals who begin to panic during this major life change and slip into depression.

The spring softball season of my freshman year I was knocked to the cold, muddy ground while covering first base resulting in an extremely mild concussion and even though I played through the remainder of the tournament, when I got to school the following Monday I was told I had to sit out of practice and games for a week as well as get a doctors note to clear me. Now you might be thinking, a week, that’s not bad, and compared to being done for life I suppose it’s not, but to me, that week was the slowest most dreadful week of the year. I couldn’t understand that even though I felt fine for the most part, I was still slightly foggy. I was consumed by my own preconceived feelings of wellness and the desire to get out on the field again.

I couldn’t handle one week and somehow these players are expected to just suddenly alter their entire way of life all at once? I play several sports, but softball is my passion. I have been playing since I was 5, and the thought of waking up one day and not being able to play or being carried off the field in what I’d soon learn was to be my final game stops my heart. I’m not ready to hang up my cleats by choice let alone because some doctor is telling me to.

If I were in a position like Grandstaff or any athlete who has been in a similar situation, I would most definitely be doing everything in my power to stay in the game or on the field and I could never lay down and accept defeat. I could not let my own sport beat me like that. My whole life has been spent working to beat the odds, to be victorious, and now out of nowhere it’s all being taken away? To me, the question of coming back or not is not even a discussion. The pure joy and rush of adrenaline I and so many others feel simply by stepping out onto that field or court or ice and playing our hearts out simply does not compare to the risks we take by playing.

Dr. David Kaufman once said, “you cannot live your life afraid”. You can’t live in fear because then you’re not really living. We don’t stop doing the things we love the second a small risk is discovered. We still drive cars despite the 6 million accidents a year. We still play in the rain despite the lightning. When everything you do is done with heart and dedication and passion, that is when you are living. That is what gets you out of bed each morning, that is what keeps drawing the competitor in you back again, and that is why I would go back.