OPINION: From concussion to discussion

Ever since I was just a little gal, I dreamed of being involved in the world of sports no matter what it took or what danger I would face. 

Growing up, I was always involved in some kind of sport, spending the majority of my time in gymnastics and soccer. 

From the time I could run, my mom would have to tie me down when we went to my sister’s gymnastics practices. Otherwise I’d be crashing into everyone on the mat showing off my “skills” (none of which I had at age 2.

Finally, when I was 3, my mom decided it was time to give me my shot on the mat — or at least time for me to actually be allowed to be out there. As a kid, I had no fear and was insanely flexible (people would ask me if I even had a spine), so I became a good gymnast very quickly. My coach (shoutout Jason) would use me as an example when showing the other kids how to do certain skills. Basically, I was a pretty big deal. Oh, and everyone called me Alioop, if that matters.

A couple of years later, I joined a team with the same coach and made a ton of friends; I was having the time of my life. While my parents were happy to see me so happy, it also meant the end of their free time until I moved out. (Thanks, mom and dad!)

From that point, I had gymnastics practice almost every day. And when I wasn’t at practice, I was cartwheeling through the house or practicing on the beam we set up in our basement. My family thought I’d be a gymnast forever.

I thought the same thing … until I stumbled across the sport that swept me off my feet: soccer. If my parents thought their freetime was taken up by gymnastics, well, they were in for a big surprise. 

When I was 10, I decided I needed a change: I took a break from gymnastics and tried out soccer. 

Why? For whatever reason, I started freezing while on the beams. I couldn’t jump to the high bar. I stopped doing flips on the floor. I was scared of getting hurt, which is ironic considering what happened to me in soccer. We’ll get to that later.

Honestly, when I started soccer I was pretty trash. I was a cherry picker forward; all I could do was stand by the goal and score. My real calling was on the opposite end of the field as a goalie. Makes sense right? I was scared of falling onto a soft and squishy mat, but smashing into people, landing on the hard ground and a hard ball flying at my face? No problem. 

Soccer consumed my life. I had practices almost every single day, all year long, three different seasons of games and tournaments all around the country. It may seem like a lot, but there was nothing I would’ve rather been doing. I had the best team, the best coach (shoutout other Jason) and I was really good at what I did.

As I got older, I realized I wanted to play soccer forever. There was nothing more exciting than getting to stand on the field and protect the goal for my team. The best times in my life came from my days playing soccer. I was in love with the game.

In hopes of achieving my goal, I wanted to start working my ass off. I joined bigger and better clubs, attended goalie camps and had extra training on the side. This meant my parents had to drive me at least 45 minutes away every day so I could do what I loved.

Now, you might be wondering what happened to me in soccer. 

While I was at the top of my game and working hard to get where I wanted to be, what I forgot to mention is that I had just come off of my third concussion. Sounds crazy, I know, but I guess I have a kickable head (sad face).

My first concussion occurred when I was in eighth grade. A girl was running at me with the ball at her feet, and when I slid and secured the ball, she wound up her leg, unleashing it on my head. That kick made me miss my last few weeks of school and the end of that soccer season. My second came in similar fashion half a year later, but much less severe. My third concussion was entirely my fault. Somehow, I combined gymnastics and soccer together and did a flip while diving for the ball. I pretty much landed on my head, need I say more?

Still, having had three and still being able to play was unheard of. It took a hell of a lot of convincing my physical therapist and parents to let me continue on after that third one. 

However, the deal was that if I got one more, I was done with soccer forever. In a way, I felt like a ticking time bomb, but I never let it slow me down. Although, I probably should’ve…

I think you can guess by now what happened. Toward the end of our regular season (and the end of my career), I got kneed in the head during a game. My coach that year tried to drag me off the field, but I wasn’t having it. I convinced him to let me stay in because I felt fine (enough). Then, that same girl who kneed me in the head decided to kick me in the head in the exact same spot. There was no arguing after that. Forrest marched onto that field and carried me off.

After that final kick to my noggin, I knew that was the end for me.

Yes, I miss soccer and I wish I was still playing. However, it was the best decision for me, and it brought me here. Now that I can’t play sports, I get to write and talk about them, which I am starting to love just as much.

Next time, I’ll talk a bit more about how I got involved in sports journalism. 

End of discussion, no more concussion.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.