Sophia’s Concussion Story

January 3, 2018 | General News, Inspiration, Press, Safety

Scientific studies have shown how important safety equipment can be to preventing head injuries in young athletes.

However, we recently received a letter from from a wonderful young woman reminding us as to why we got into the business. Player safety, concussion statistics and studies represent real human lives. We're excited to be a part of the growing trend for player safety in women's lacrosse. Below is Sophia's letter in its entirety:

Hummingbird Sports,

It means so much to me that you have created a brand of lacrosse helmets in multiple sizes for girls and contributed to making the public aware of the devastating effects of concussions in girls lacrosse. It was relieving and helpful to see the stories of other girls on your website who’ve gone through the same thing I have, and are using their stories to advocate for safety. Please allow me to share my story with you.

I’m a sophomore in high school in the San Francisco Bay Area, and in freshman year I made the Varsity Lacrosse team. In the end, I decided to switch to JV in order to get more playing time and to sharpen my skills; I had the time of my life.

Over the eight years I’ve played, starting at the age of 8, lacrosse has given me a voice. It has taught me leadership, commitment, and teamwork. I forged friendships that can only be created through absolute trust among team members, and strengthened my relationship with my sister, who played on the same team with me for over six years. It also gave me the opportunity to bond with my dad, who brought the girl’s lacrosse program in my town back to life and coached me until high school.

When I’m on the field, I am powerful, strong, focused, and beautiful. My everyday stresses vanish and I have the freedom to be whoever I want to be. Lacrosse meant everything to me.

Everything changed last year. Right before the fourth quarter of freshman year, our team was set to play one of my school’s rival teams. Before the game started, I hugged my mom and told her I’d never been happier in my entire life. School was going well, I finally had lots of new high school friends, and I loved being on the lacrosse team. She smiled and told me to go out there, have fun and to be unstoppable. And that’s what happened.

I was on fire that game. I felt a different energy course through my blood, and my mind was focused only on the ball. I loved starting in the draw circle, and had worked hard with my dad to perfect my draw, and it was paying off. I had won almost all of my draws, and my teammates were fast on the circle. I sprinted down the field, and working with the other midfielders, I had personally scored five of our fourteen goals so far, and we were tied with the other team in the last minutes of the game.

A girl on the other team I was defending whipped her stick back behind her, unintentionally hitting me in the temple

A girl on the other team I was defending whipped her stick back behind her, unintentionally hitting me in the temple, and sprinted down the field to follow the ball. Stunned for a second, I adjusted my eye gear, before asking myself, “What are you doing? Go!” I sprinted down the field to catch up with the midfielders. It had never occurred to me that this was my first concussion.

The ball had been passed around, and I jumped to the eight meter to fill in the hole in the defensive line. The girl drove in to shoot, passing me with her speed, and determined not to let that happen, I sprinted after her. I was right behind her, closing in just as she brought her stick back to shoot, hitting me hard on the crown of my head. My second concussion only seconds after the first.

The blow caused me to fall. As I was falling backwards, I blacked out. I was told that my head snapped backwards onto the turf. My third concussion. My neck felt wrong, the result of whiplash. I don’t remember what happened next, only disorienting colors and lights. My mom told me later that all the players sprinted over to me and helped me up and that I was crying.

I do remember my coach’s concerned face after I stood up. Everything felt distorted and distant from me. I remember telling her I was fine and could go back in the game. Her eyes met mine and I found I couldn’t focus on her face. She insisted I leave the field and get checked by the sports medic, who reassured me I was okay and probably had a minor concussion.

That night was the worst night of my life. Something was clearly wrong with me, and I couldn’t control my emotions.

That night was the worst night of my life. Something was clearly wrong with me, and I couldn’t control my emotions. I was in bed and my sister and mom sat next to me and I cried torrentially, before looking at my sister and the slight crinkle in her forehead, and touching it. Looking back, I can see how strange I was behaving, but at the time, her forehead was the funniest thing in the world, and I laughed unrelenting for minutes before my laughter turned into tears and then I was going to throw up. After I ran to the bathroom and dry heaved, I returned to bed, and sobbed even more. I had never been a crier before, but this changed me.

The next morning, my head throbbed and disjointed thoughts pierced into my mind, stinging like yellow jackets. Even though the curtains were closed and the lights were turned off, the hint of sunlight wracked my brain like a tennis racket pounding a ball at the wall. Every footstep I heard as my family tiptoed around the house was amplified, and drove me to the point of tears. My mind was a dark place of chaotic unrelated images and words clashing in discord.

I couldn’t focus on anything, my mom’s worried words, my ceiling, and forget reading or homework. Dizziness and nausea consumed me and the only coherent thought in my mind repeated itself again and again. “Why?”

It was a living nightmare, yet I fought sleep as panic driven nightmares consumed my nights for weeks. Images of my family dying, drowning, and WWII (the WWII lecture I had the day of the game in World History was one of the only things I remembered) haunted me until I would wake up sobbing in fear so real it paralyzed me to my bed like chains. I was jailed, bound by my mind.

I went to the hospital twice, and after an MRI and several other scans which were inconclusive, they told me to go home and rest and that there was nothing they could do. They transferred me to a concussion specialist. A week later, after taking several computerized tests that were nearly impossible for me to complete, the doctor told me I wouldn’t be able to go back to school or lacrosse. My whole world was gone.

After weeks turned into months of me being confined to my house, it was still impossible for me to read, write, listen to music, or watch TV. I could only eat, sleep, and breathe. I was alive, but I was not living.

I do not wish to evoke pity by describing my symptoms, but spread awareness of how truly devastating a concussion can be.

I do not wish to evoke pity by describing my symptoms, but spread awareness of how truly devastating a concussion can be. My symptoms were serious and are not being over-dramaticized. Before my experience, I thought a concussion was like a cut or a twisted ankle. That it was nothing serious or long lasting. And most times this is true, but that is not what happened in my case or in a growing number of incidents in girls lacrosse.

I could not have lived through this time without my lacrosse teammates and coach dropping off gifts and loving cards, my kind teachers and classmates, and visits and texts from my friends. But mostly, I couldn’t have gotten through this terrible time without my family.

Everyday, I still struggle at school nine months later. I only have three classes instead of seven, have to visit the nurse often to rest, and have forgotten basic things like my multiplication tables. However, next semester, I’m adding more classes to my schedule, more days are now good than bad, and the future is finally looking bright.

Recently, I’ve gotten much better and am glad to be back at school. I’m getting my energy back, have been able to focus longer, and started smiling again. I went to the first pre-season lacrosse conditioning practice last week. Of course, with a helmet! Nothing will stop me from playing the game I love.

After my injury, I never thought I could be totally happy again, but I proved myself wrong.

I feel eternal gratitude for my health and can’t believe how well I’m doing. Even though I wish this had never happened, I have grown as a person because of it. I wish that no other person will ever have to experience what I have been through which is why I am grateful and thankful to you for making helmets for girls lacrosse, and promoting safety precautions.

We believe that the severity of my injury had to do with experiencing multiple concussive impacts at nearly the same time. I have no doubt that a helmet would have significantly minimized at least two of the three head impacts I experienced that day.

Due to my experience, our family is adamant about getting girls to wear helmets in lacrosse. If there is any way that I can help advocate for your company or get the word out, I would be more than happy to help.

Please feel free to share my story to spread the word about the importance of helmets in girls lacrosse.

It’s amazing to think that none of this would have happened if I had been wearing a helmet.

Thank you again,