Alarms Raised Over Rising Concussion Rates Among Young Female Soccer Players

By Joe Christensen
Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As columnist Joe Christensen points out, “Football owns the national conversation on concussions, but mounting evidence suggests girls’ soccer deserves an equal share in that painful spotlight.”

Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

McKenzie Gregoire suffered so many concussions playing soccer, doctors made her quit. She spent her senior season as Shakopee’s team manager.

Sara Johnson’s first soccer concussion came in eighth grade. Four years later, she suffered another one playing for Fridley, forcing her out of the game she loves.

Haley Ramberg blacked out from a soccer concussion two years ago for Blaine. She missed one month of school as her head and body healed, recovering as many student-athletes with these brain injuries do: resting in dark rooms and quiet places for weeks.

Blaine coach Scott Zachmann said the sight of Ramberg’s collision haunts him to this day. His big fear used to be knee-ligament injuries.

“Now I find myself way more worried about a concussion,” Zachmann said. “Any time players collide, it’s the first thing you think of.”

State champions in girls’ soccer will be crowned Thursday at U.S. Bank Stadium, ending a season in which concussion concerns escalated for many Minnesota high school coaches.

Football owns the national conversation on concussions, but mounting evidence suggests girls’ soccer deserves an equal share in that painful spotlight.

A Star Tribune survey of Twin Cities coaches, which drew 52 responses, showed that about 5 percent of varsity girls’ soccer players suffered concussions the past two seasons. That’s an increase from the 3 percent concussion rate girls’ soccer showed in the 2014-15 school year, in a study published by the Minnesota Department of Health.

Several teams with rosters of about 20 players reported having three or four concussions this season. New Prague, St. Paul Johnson and St. Croix Lutheran were among the schools that have had at least six players suffer concussions over the past two seasons.

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