When the Bowling Green State University (BGSU) Men’s Hockey team comes to town this weekend, fans will notice a slight wardrobe change for the Wildcats, a helmet sticker to support the “New Tough Campaign.” The initiative, founded by the Headway Foundation for Concussion Awareness, is aimed at promoting a platform for players to unite in creating a positive mental shift in athletes’ mindsets in regards to concussions and concussion-like symptoms.
The WCHA has joined with both the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) and the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) in an acknowledgment to making student-athletes safety and well-being a new focus moving forward.
Joining NMU and BGSU this weekend to represent the WCHA in support of the New Tough Campaign are the Lake Superior State University Lakers, Ferris State University Bulldogs, Alabama-Huntsville University Chargers and the Minnesota State University Mavericks.
“The sheer number of athletes rallying behind this weekend is a testament to the progress being made about the proper ways to handle concussions in sports,” Paige Decker said, co-founder of the Headway Foundation and former college hockey player at Yale University. “As athletes who have experienced long-term post-concussion symptoms, we understand how important it is to handle this injury properly.”
In a study conducted by the NCAA between 2009 and 2014, it was discovered that in 10,000 athletic exposures, which is defined as one athlete participating in a practice or competition during which the athlete was exposed to the possibility of athletic injury, hockey players were exposed to concussion-like symptoms 7.9 times during a five year playing career. That number is the second highest figure amongst college sports while only trailing wrestling with a rate of 10.9 average concussions per career.
The stigma behind “toughing it out” is what the New Tough Campaign is looking to change amongst younger athletes and awareness is the first step to change.
“We understand that removal from play when a concussion is suspected is often the mentally tougher but necessary thing to do,” Decker said. “We want to facilitative a productive dialogue around this subject.”
Additionally, fans are able to pledge their support and donate to the Headway Foundation by visiting headwayfoundation.com, with donated money going to areas that include awareness campaigns, support packages and educational curriculums.