“Most players, they’re afraid of coming off the field – they don’t want coach to get mad at them, or they don’t want to lose their spot,” said Ashton Adams, a senior defensive lineman at Jacob Hespeler Secondary School in Cambridge, Ont.
“To be honest, I’d probably stay on. Just because I like to tough it out.”
Giving players the information and providing the right culture for teens to speak up is key to many new initiatives spotted across the nation.
Many provincial athletic associations are now making concussion-awareness training mandatory for coaches and mandating a doctor’s note before an athlete can return to play. Some boards have concussion committees, and some are mandating daily football practice plans so they can monitor the drills. Mr. Rocca said his school has been talking to a local hockey league to learn about its experience with baseline testing, and some Toronto high-school coaches arranged a presentation from noted concussion researcher Charles Tator.
The Canadian Football League is stepping up, too. It started a nationwide awareness program involving all levels of football in Canada, sending out posters and flyers to Canada’s teams that include concussion symptoms and a list of what to do if they arose. They will also partner with CMRG’s concussion-management program on a session for athletic trainers.
Edmonton Eskimos offensive lineman Patrick Kabongo played host to a concussion workshop for minor football association, the Edmonton Chargers. The Toronto Argonauts are subsidizing helmet certifications and athletic therapists for teams in the Toronto District School Board.
Matt Vettoretti says the blitz of recent awareness is changing the way his teammates feel about concussions.
“I never thought about concussions when I first started playing,” he said. “But now I’m an 18-year-old kid, and who knows where football is going for me. It’s frustrating to be told to sit out, but think about the rest of your life.”