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They said the C-word.  It’s like the word concussion is the biggest cuss word you could say to a student-athlete.  It’s even worse than the nastiest cuss word! It’s an alarming word for a young person to hear.  With all the precautions, modified training, better equipment, and new helmets; concussions are still unknown.  And like an unknown in a horror movie, concussions are downright scary!

Concussions are serious business and what hit the NFL like a brick wall a couple of years ago, has trickled down to high school sports.  As a dad, I’m first grateful for Coaches Mayes, Trenton, and others at Douglas High School, that knew that my son’s brain is more valuable than playing football.  These coaches and trainers are used to yelling “rub some dirt in it!”, but when it comes to your bell being rung, that’s not the order of the day anymore.

My son, Lewis, landed on his back in a practice, the back of his helmet hit the ground fairly hard according to him.  The coaches checked on him, pulled him from practice and put him on concussion watch. He wasn’t in protocol, but to play it safe, they didn’t put him in that week's game.  In that week’s game, Garrett Campbell, the starting Freshman Quarterback took a hit to the head. Garrett was removed from the game, given sunglasses, a hat and escorted to a dark room with his father where he could be monitored and later checked over.

For a student-athlete, this could be the end of them playing their favorite sport.  My son was distressed that he couldn’t help his team but more concerned that he was going to lose football, a place of camaraderie and belonging that he dearly loves.  The next week playing against Spanish Springs, Lewis fell on the ground after a hit and had one break in his radius and a fracture in his ulna. He had to have surgery to pin the radius in place and secure the bones for casting.  He was told that his season was over. That was a “bummer” for him, but he already has plans to play JV football next year. A break was no big deal, but a concussion was a life sentence!

Concussions happen in all sports, not just football.  I’ve seen young women and men sat and evaluated in volleyball, soccer, and softball all in the last two years.  I’m glad that high school athletics values the student over the athlete. Here’s hoping that nobody ever says the C-word to your kiddo!

Scott Riley has a Senior daughter playing for Douglas High Ladies Varsity Lacrosse and a Freshmen son on the 9th grade Football team.  He is married and has a 5th grade son who plays almost everything through Douglas County Recreation.  Scott roots also for the Carson High Senators & the Sierra Lutheran Falcons as the Student Pastor of LifePoint Church in Minden.

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