My name is Hayden Posencheg and I have been involved in lacrosse for fourteen years.
In January of my senior year, I wanted to try something different while also staying in shape for lacrosse season so, I went out for our winter track team. This was a great way to keep exercising throughout the offseason of lacrosse, however, towards the middle of the track season, I received a major concussion. I was sitting watching one of my teammates pole vault, when the pole fell backwards and straight onto my head. I spent the rest of the winter resting, having to do physical and vestibular therapy, and working my best to get back into shape for the final lacrosse season of my high school career.
As you, the reader, may or may not know, concussion rehab is slow and frustrating – especially for the athlete. You want to be proactive in the healing process, as in the way you would for any ankle sprain or pulled quad however, the only way to start healing a concussion is to literally do nothing. Our minds are not built for this kind of rehab, which made this concussion dreadful for me.
Fortunately, I was cleared just in time for my high school lacrosse team’s first game in March. My hopes were high. I was determined, excited, and ready to play a great season to end my four years on the Friends’ Central lacrosse team. Unfortunately, my season was unexpectedly cut short. Just five months after my concussion earlier that year, I suffered another concussion in the fourth game of our season. I remember sprinting to get a ground ball in our defensive end, looking up as I headed down the field to see two players charging towards me to double, and then it happened. I was checked in the side of the head and fell to the ground. I felt like I was in a different world; tears blurred my vision, my head was pounding, my heart was beating a mile a minute, and I do not remember anything that was happening around me. In the moment, all that registered was that my season may have just ended. I met my mom at the sideline and fell into her arms. I was foggy, devastated, scared, and angry all at the same time.
After I was diagnosed with another concussion, I was heartbroken. I felt that all of the rehab I went through in the winter was for nothing, and the thought of starting all over again was depressing and scary. Having my senior season snatched away from me was hard enough, but then I thought about my future plans to play Division 1 lacrosse at Duquesne University, and I was afraid my doctor wouldn’t let me continue and my career would end here.
I had to find it within myself to go back to physical and vestibular therapy every day, do my exercises at home, gradually get back to full days at school, and show up to practice and games with a smile on my face. It was not easy. I learned that I depended on the energy around me to succeed. Without my friends, family and coaches encouraging me, I couldn’t be in the place with the kind of mindset that I have now.
I currently play Division III lacrosse for Dickinson College, and I’m also coaching a team during the summer. Through it all, I feel very lucky to have lacrosse play such a huge role in my life.
If I could give any advice to someone going through concussions, it would be to commit to getting better. Make it a goal to do the stuff at home, show up to therapy sessions, and do everything to the best of your ability. Also use the people you love if it gets tough, it’s a game-changer.