Part of the Game: concussions

Part of the Game: concussions

(KLTV) - Those big plays you cheer for on Friday night are the end of a long, hard week full of big hits on the practice field.

"Football is a contact sport. We try to prepare them as well as we can. It's not just me, it's every coach, especially in Texas," said Mike Owens, head football coach at Frankston High School.

There is no doubt that football is king in East Texas. Everything else takes a back seat from the months of August through December. But concussions, and the idea of player safety, may be a threat to the throne.

"Your brain is going to float inside the skull. So it hits the back, it hits the front, and causes damage, depending on how many times it hits," said Cathy Fleseler, sports medicine M.D.

In 2014, five out of the eleven high school football player deaths came as a result of head and spine injuries while playing football. This season, four out of the six players who have died, did so after suffering a traumatic hit during a game.

"There is not a helmet that will prevent concussions. That's the problem, is you don't even have to get hit in the head to have a concussion," said Fleseler.

Nowadays, concussions are like the flu; everyone seems to be getting them. Especially on the football field.  For some athletes, they are able to heal, walk away, and continue participating in the sport of their choice. But for others, it's more complicated than that.

"I didn't know what was going on, I didn't even know I was in the helicopter until I looked up and saw they had helmets on. They named me "Idaho-Idaho" because they didn't know my name. They beat my parents to the hospital, so they had no way of knowing my name," said Caleb Williams.

On September 18, Caleb Williams of Gladewater, was hit so hard, he not only suffered a severe concussion, he also lost something you can never really replace: memories.

"I don't remember playing any sports, so I want a memory of playing sports. Something to look back on whenever I think about high school," said Williams.

Seven weeks after his concussion, Williams will not take the field for the Gladewater Bears, but he is planning on taking the court, which is something even his football coach is worried about.

"I would probably be a lot like they are, I'd be nervous about it. Quite honestly," said John Berry, head football coach at Gladewater.

Just like you can't prevent a concussion, you can't prevent an athlete from yearning to return to the game.

"You could fall down the stairs and get a concussion all over again. Sports makes you a family, and you just want to play with your family again," said Williams.

Concussions, clearly, are dangerous. But keeping young athletes off the field, or court, afterward, maybe the bigger challenge for coaches and parents to tackle.

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