Soccer Ruined My Brain

Soccer Ruined My Brain

Pre-K through high school, I played competitive soccer until I suffered two concussions which have been impacting my life ever since.

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Soccer Career

U12 Girls Win 2nd Division - 7 Wins, 1 Tie, No LossesTippco Soccer Club

I started out soccer in the way most younger kids did -- their parents stuck them in rec soccer to keep them active and have them make friends. I played rec until I was nine and that was when my parents decided I should try to do travel soccer. I joined Tippco Soccer Club and my fate was sealed from there.

I had always been a multi-sport athlete -- juggling between cross country, volleyball, basketball, track, and soccer. Soccer was my true passion at the time. The more I played for Tippco, the more competitive I became. I was an aggressive player and loved my spot as either outside back or center back. I would occasionally play wing, but I could never find my spacing correctly.

When I was thirteen I tried out for the team that was a year above me. I made it with a few of my friends and we would stick together because we were intimidated by the older girls. I bonded really well with that team, but it was cut short when spring season hit. At the end of the spring season, there are usually several tournaments that happen throughout Indiana.

We decided to play in the Tippco tournament with hopes of winning. That tournament, I was a pass-player for another team. This meant I would attend my own games and play for the other team whenever they needed me.


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While I was pass-playing for the other team, I was subbed in for center back. A girl from the opposing team had gotten the ball into our goal box and was about to score. In the midst of trying to get the ball to the outside of the field, she fell on top of me and I hit the ground. When I hit, my head bounced off a dry dirt patch.

My coach said I blacked out for about a minute. I was taken out of the game and screened for a concussion on the sideline. At first, I was fine. I didn't understand why I couldn't go back into the game and why I had to sit out. I didn't see it as a big deal.

By the time my last afternoon game rolled around, I had convinced my parents that I was okay and I could play. My coach allowed me to play until I started having a double vision regarding the other opponents. Basically, he saw my charge for a girl that wasn't there so I was benched and told to go to Urgent Care.

At Urgent Care, I was diagnosed with a concussion that would affect my fine motor skills and had caused some potential nerve damage in my neck due to it snapping off the ground. I wasn't allowed to exercise for two months and I couldn't watch anything that had a screen. Light bothered me and any brain stimulation severely hurt my head.


U12 Girls White Team Wins 2012 Siege at St. Francis with 4-0 RecordTippco Soccer Club


I recovered from this concussion in time for the fall season. I played well throughout the fall. I had no issues except for my balance. During the spring, I endured my second concussion. We were playing a regular season game in Fishers. Again, I was on defense when a girl tried to curve a ball around my head. She failed and hit me in the face.

I lost vision and hearing. I was immediately taken out of the game and taken to the nearest Urgent Care. This concussion was minor compared to my last one, but it affected my memory. I stopped playing soccer after that game and switched my focus to running.


U12 Girls White Team Wins Fusion Fall Classic with 5 Games in 2 DaysTippco Soccer Club

Throughout high school, I ran for the cross country and track teams. I was involved with several clubs and maintained a 4.0 GPA until my graduation. I graduated Top 5% in my class and had little-to-no effects from my concussions. I had a few minor instances where I would forget certain days or names, but I didn't think much of it.


The Aftermath

The summer before college, I had a lot of trouble remembering to do simple tasks. I blamed it on being lazy and not wanting to do anything. I couldn't remember assignments I had to do, along with chores, appointments, and meetings. It wasn't until my first few quizzes and exams during the first semester that I realized something was very wrong.

I knew the information and I would re-teach it to myself every night to make sure I understood. Each time I took a test or quiz, it would feel like the answers were far away in my mind. I remembered studying for the information, but I couldn't quite reach it.

I began getting awful grades. I was used to all A's and upon receiving my first C, it felt like the end of the world. I couldn't wrap my head around why I wasn't able to retain information like I used to. I went from striving for A's to hoping for C's and B's. It felt like I was a failure and I shouldn't have been accepted to Purdue.

It didn't help that I couldn't even remember people and places. Sometimes I would wake up and not know how to get to class or forget the names of the people I had been sitting with the entire semester.

I reached out to the Disability Resource Center (DRC) about halfway through the semester. They suggested attending supplemental study sessions and I was given a letter that allowed me to have accommodations for testing (i.e. extra time, room alone, etc.). This helped a little bit, but I continued to struggle with schoolwork and exams.

I felt hopeless. I didn't see a point in continuing school or even getting a job. I saw myself as a useless student with the memory of a goldfish. I talked with my parents about it and them kind of understood, but not fully. They didn't get why repeatedly studying doesn't make a difference for me.

Now that I'm in my second semester, I still struggle with retaining information. I feel a bit overwhelmed and I have to work overtime on school and clubs. I've made a great support system.

They're trying to understand what I'm going through and are there for me when I need them. I think I'm going to get testing soon to see how this may impact me later in life. It only took four years to have effects such as these, so I'm worried and interested in how the condition of my brain will be in another four years.

I urge anyone that is struggling from concussions or any condition that they're not alone and there are plenty of resources to seek help. Even if the resources can't fix the problem, they can point you in a direction that can alleviate it. I also wanted to stress how important your brain is.

I used to not think my concussions were a big deal and were more of just a funny sports story. They now have real impacts and it's been changing my life. If you're playing contact sports, please wear safety gear. You only have one brain and you can't get it back once it's gone -- take care of it.


Resources


Purdue University Disability Resource Center (DRC)

Address: Earnest C. Young Hall Building, 8th Floor, Room 830, 155 Grant St, West Lafayette, IN 47907

Phone: (765) 494-1247


Purdue University Student Health Center (PUSH)

Address: 601 Stadium Mall Dr., West Lafayette, IN 47907

Phone: (765) 494-1700


Indiana University Health Arnett

Address: 253 Sagamore Pkwy W, West Lafayette, IN 47906

Phone: (765) 448-8000


Franciscan Express Care West Lafayette

Address: 915 Sagamore Pkwy W, West Lafayette, IN 47906

Phone: (765) 463-6262

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A Thank You Letter To The Best Teammate I've Ever Had

There's no "I" in team.
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We all have those amazing memories when it comes to sports. Sometimes it is from winning tough games, but most of the amazing memories that we have come from the teammates that we shared those wins with. Teammates are the people who you spend so much time with that you eventually become a family. Teammates do more than help just win a game; they can be there through everything. There's always that one teammate that stands out from the rest, and this letter is for you.

Thank you for being selfless.

Looking back, I remember a lot of teammates. Some were great and some were not that great. I've had teammates who have only cared about their playing time. I've had teammates that have only cared about if they score more goals or more points than anyone else. You did not care about that. If the coach told you to play a position that you did not want to play, you still played it without a complaint. If I was tired at a certain position and wanted to switch you, you did it. You never complained about where you were playing or how many goals you had; you just wanted the team to win.

Thank you for having my back.

The best kinds of teammates are the ones that support you no matter what you do. I got a red card? That referee is stupid. I got into a fist fight during a game? You were the first one next to me swinging. Some girl makes fun of me on social media for messing up in a game? You were roasting her in her mentions. Even if I was right or wrong, you always supported me no matter what I did.

Thank you for seeing me at my worst and building me back up.

There are always times in an athlete's life where we run to the point to where we need to throw up. There are times where we go through games and miss too many shots. There are times where we get a little too mad at our coaches and feel as if we cannot deal with it anymore. You were the one that got me through it. When I was in the middle of a run and my lungs were burning, you stayed right next to me and reminded me that there wasn't much longer to go, even if there was. You always reminded me how capable I was by yelling at me and telling me to go score. You've seen me tired, sweaty, crying, screaming and throwing up. After all that, you still went out of your way to build me back up and I cannot thank you enough for that.

Thank you for making me love the game.

Without people like you, I would have had a very rough ride through my sports career. I have had teammates that have made me go home crying because they were so mean and rude. I have had teammates who have only cared about themselves. Without you, I would've forgotten what a good teammate is. Looking back, all I remember is the celebrations, the screaming random songs in cars and us hating each other's exes automatically... Then talking about all these things at practice. Thanks for being a leader with me. Without you and the rest of the team, I would not have loved the sport that I played.

Cover Image Credit: Cheap Seats Photography

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The First Time My Mistakes No Longer Controlled My Life

Mistakes suck, and though I've conquered a few, I'm still learning.

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The whistle blows as the team cheers on.

My heart pounds as if it will burst out of my chest at any given moment and I taste the salty sweat trickling down my face. I must serve over the net, I must get it in, I must ace my opponent or I will fail. Fear.

In his first inaugural speech, President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously stated, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Such a statement proves powerful to the matured minds of society; however, in the minds of some adolescents, this declaration appears somewhat foolish, as numerous "threats" ignite fear, thus causing teens to grow anxious.

A major cause for fear in the rising generation takes form in failure. In the eyes of these people, making a simple mistake paves the way towards absolute failure; therefore, perfectionists constantly walk on eggshells attempting to do the impossible: avoid human error. This mentality gives way to constant stress and overall disappointment, as perfection does not apply to human beings. If one can come to the realization that not one person can attain perfection, they can choose to live life in ease, for they no longer have to apply constant pressure upon themselves to master excellence. The fear of failure will no longer encumber their existence, and they can overcome situations that initially brought great anxiety. I too once put great pressure on myself to maintain perfection, and as a result, felt constantly burdened by my mistakes. However, when I realized the inevitability of those mistakes, it opened the door for great opportunities. The first time I recognized that failure serves as a tool for growth allowed me to no longer fear my mistakes, and instead utilize them for my own personal growth.

The whistle blows as the team cheers on. My heart pounds as if it will burst out of my chest at any given moment, and I taste the salty sweat trickling down my face. I must serve over the net, I must get it in, I must ace my opponent. As hard as I try, I fail; as the ball flies straight into the net and thuds obnoxiously onto the gym floor, so does my confidence. I feel utter defeat, as I know my fate. My eyes water as my coach immediately pulls me from the game, sits me on the bench, and tells me to "get my head into the game" instead of dwindling on past errors. From then on I rarely step foot on the court, and instead, ride the bench for the remainder of the season. I feel defeated. However, life does not end, and much to my surprise, this mistake does not cause failure in every aspect of my life. Over time, I gradually realize that life does not end just because of failure. Instead, mistakes and failure pave the way toward emotional development and allows one to build character. In recognizing that simple slip-ups do not lead to utter failure, I gain perspective: one's single mistake does not cause their final downfall. Thus, this epiphany allowed for my mental growth and led me to overcome once challenging obstacles.

Instead of viewing mistakes as burdens, one should utilize them as motivation for future endeavors. The lesson proves simple: all can learn from their mistakes. However, it is a matter of choosing to learn from these mistakes that decide one's future growth. Instead of pushing faults away, I now acknowledge them in order to progress. Before coming to such a realization, I constantly "played it safe" in sports, fearing that giving my best effort would lead to greater error. I did not try, and as a result, I rarely failed.

Although such a mentality brought forth limited loss in terms of overall team success, it also brought forth limited, individual success. Today, fear of failure no longer controls life on the court. I use my mistakes as motivation to get better; instead of dwindling on an error made five minutes prior, I focus on the form needed to correct it. As a result, skills will constantly improve, instead of regress. Thus, errors serve as blessings, as it is through these errors in which one can possess the motivation to better themselves.

For some, fear acts as an ever-present force that controls every aspect of life. In particular, the fear of failure encumbers perfectionists, as the mere thought of failing causes great anxieties. In the past, I have fell victim to the fear of committing a mistake, and as a result, could not go through life without feeling an overwhelming sense of defeat. However, in a moment of what appeared to be a great failure, I finally recognized that life does not end due to one mistake, let alone one million. Instead, mistakes pave the way toward personal development and provide essential motivation to succeed in everyday life. Without mistakes, it proves difficult to grow in character. One must first learn to accept their faults before they can appreciate their best qualities. Thus, the fear of failure inhibits the growth of an individual; therefore, all must come to the realization that essentialness of mistakes, as they allow for the further development of overall character.

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