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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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