Protecting the Heads of the Laveen Stampede

November 22, 2017

A local civic voice is one we exercise in a community, ranging from your dorm floor to your neighborhood upwards to your town to surge forth positive change or to maintain the wellness of society. Think of the small communities you’ve been a part of in the past or the ones you’re involved in now, and identify an issue you wished or wish would change. What is something that provoked you to desire change? That is, what would you have liked to see different, where reasonable amounts of people would agree?
 
“On the line!” my junior-varsity coach Cody billowed from the depths of his voice box as I abandoned the oasis that was my water bottle. It was defensive day this day of practice - it meant a gatling gun of violent collisions against my football brothers and would continue all day.

The first drills were featherly and mere padding; they were meant to warm us up. The hitting became more brutal and barbarous until it was eventually all out. Groans became harmonized with the pop of each blow, and the drill became musical as Coach Cody conducted each run with “Go!” I stood at the front of my line, facing my valiant opponent, before I awakened from my blank fear. Without thought, I morphed into athletic position and stared into my foe, bouncing my leg on the grass while shuddering in anticipation. I surged forward with the intent to harm my temporary enemy of the drill at ”Go!,” but at contact, we halted in our frantic rush, and drove each other to the ground. My head rattled full force onto the dense dirt, and I was dazed. I stood with blurring, bent vision, and struggled to glimpse for my coach. I approached him like a zombie, and said, “Coach. I feel dizzy.” He grabbed a water bottle, squirted it on my head, and muttered “You’re good.”

The first rule our team learned about concussions was to let our coaches know when we felt dizzy, as to immediately identify and treat a concussion. Our coaches, though, didn’t take it seriously, and consequently threatened the wellbeing of their players. This was a major issue in our football program. The words were being preached but were not practiced. That vicious defensive day was the day that provoked me to seek positive change; I engaged in conversation for a week straight after practice with the athletic trainer, so she could put sense into the coaches. I told her of the reactions my coaches revealed when I confronted them with dizziness, and how they urged us to eradicate our timid collisions to go one hundred percent on our teammates. Through consistency, the changes became obvious. We perfected our tackling form in substitution for hitting, and our coaches focused on removing the involvement of the helmet in all collisions. Our head coach Dylan would eventually host a workshop with ex-NFL defensive linemen to educate the Varsity team on proper tackling methods. The game of football became safer for the Laveen Stampede






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