Ball Brutality

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Ball Brutality

Iesha Brown, Sports Writer

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It is true many sports students play, such as football, basketball, and soccer all have one thing in common. Concussions. However, as uncanny as it may sound, athletes can receive concussions from water polo as well.

According to the University of California, more than a third of water polo participants reported sustaining a concussion either during games or in practice, according to a poll conducted by UC Irvine researchers.

Concussions are very common injuries in sports, but the girls varsity water polo team has received an unusual high number of concussions from their players this year.

About six girls from the team happened to have received concussions due to aggressive physical contact.
Patrick Duignan is a social science teacher and the girls varsity water polo coach. He was the assistant coach for the girls varsity water polo team in 2000 and eventually became head coach in 2003.

In his four years of participating in water polo in high school himself, he has received many “bumps and bruises” but hasn’t had any serious injuries like student athletes today are having.

“Last year, we suffered more concussions than we had during my previous 17 years coaching put together,” Duignan said. “When I started coaching, no one worried about concussions much at all.”

In the last few years, awareness of the injury has increased and the team is much more careful about them.

Just last year, coach Duignan spent a lot of time with Mr. Kleine, the athletic trainer, and Lauren Chasey, the concussion coordinator, about the injuries the team received and why there were so many.

To the team and the coach, a lot of it seems to have been just “tremendously bad luck.”

“That said, we are taking some steps to try to be more aware and try and limit chances of kids getting hurt again in the future,” Duignan said.

Water polo is a seven-a-side game played by swimmers in a pool, with a ball like a volleyball that is thrown into the opponent’s net.

“Water polo is a really aggressive and physical sport with head butts, elbow jabs and the ball flying at high speeds,” senior Victoria D’Astici said.

“Throughout the game I repeatedly got kicked and elbowed in the head and I kept trying to play through it and just thought it was an headache and at one point I got slammed extremely hard in the head and I couldn’t take it anymore,” sophomore Jackie Klupchak said.

Most athletes are not aware of their concussions which causes their injury to get worse.

“I got out of the pool crying and wasn’t able to walk or see at all that well. A trainer was called and before the end of the game I was put on concussion protocol,” Klupchak said.

As the season progressed, injuries became more and more rapid and caused the team to have less athletes.

“It seemed like every time we played a game, we kept losing people, senior Brianna Jackson said. “Our team isn’t that big compared to most so it was just really tough trying to play with even less people.”
Last year, the team ended the season with seven wins and 13 loses.

The team plans to work hard to prevent these concussions as the new season approaches.

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