By Paige Jackson ’24
Last Saturday, January 21st, the Girls Varsity Hockey team had a game against Lawrenceville that doubled as a fundraiser for concussion awareness. Concussions and other athlete injuries are a major problem in sports, as many athletes abuse their bodies for the sport they love.
It’s understandable. Often when athletes love a sport, all they want to do is play, and they don’t want to take weeks off for an injury. They can’t let down their teammates, coaches, and parents. They need to show off to that college scout. They need to get a workout in. They need to practice their shot. There is always something motivating them to get back out on the field, the ice, the court, the track. But it’s worth nothing in the end if they are repeatedly destroying their bodies, or their minds.
Playing through a concussion is awful for the brain and can worsen symptoms, possibly even leading to brain damage. Severe concussions have extremely harmful effects: loss of concentration and focus, easy agitation, loss of sleep, sensitivity to light and noise, amnesia, disordered taste and smell, and they could even trigger mental illnesses such as depression. Even with these risks, passionate athletes are often unwilling to rest or take a break to let their injuries heal.
Jo Wimler and Erin Duffy, ambassadors of the Concussion Legacy Foundation (also known as CLF), chose to raise money for concussion prevention and to support athletes. As intense hockey players, this is an issue very relevant in their lives. CLF’s mission is to protect athletes from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and post traumatic concussion syndrome (PCS).
For some teens, concussion side effects like CTE and PCS can lead to mental health issues and possibly suicidal thoughts or actions. Sports should never be prioritized over mental or physical health, and it is important that teenage athletes recognize this.
Jo and Duffy care a lot about athlete health, and they raised money through offering a dress down day, and running the snack shack during the game. They also provided their Venmos and waited in the dining hall for several hours to collect donations. They set a lofty goal of $10,000 but ended up with a still impressive sum of $2,107.
“My inspiration for this fundraiser came mainly from a family friend of mine, Tom Morgan, who is a part of the board at the Concussion Legacy Foundation,” Jo Wimler explained. “Once the hockey season rolled around my roommate, Erin Duffy, and I became ambassadors for the Foundation. Since then I’ve been working closely with staff at CLF to make some awesome stuff happen and plan for some more events in the future!”
While GVH lost the game against Lawrencville, they definitely made a positive impact on our school community and succeeded in educating athletes. Before the game, Jo and Duffy gave a speech about the importance of concussion awareness and athlete safety.
Their fundraising campaign is still up and running, so if you are interested in donating, the link is included at the end of this article! https://www.classy.org/campaign/gunn-girls-varsity-ice-hockey/c458187