Let me explain.
I was born January 25, 1966. So was Jay Wilkerson, a former Fresno State Bulldog football player and member of the U.S. National Rugby \”Eagles\” team, who passed away in May 2022. He also happened to be the former husband of my fiancé, Carrie Beckstrom.
Also born on this day was Bruce Murray, a former U.S. National Team soccer player and member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame. He was featured and spoke at the Concussion Legacy Foundation (CLF) annual fundraising dinner on November 3, 2022.
Carrie and I were watching this event online because Jay was being recognized \’In Memoriam\’ by CLF. When Jay died, Carrie donated his brain to the Foundation. Their findings confirmed what we suspected–Jay passed away from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).
When Carrie learned of my birthday, she took that as a sign and gave me a ‘few more’ chances to prove myself. After learning of Bruce’s birthday, I’ll take that as a sign, as well. As the Founder of Instepper, I pledge to use my platform to bring attention to the negative effects of heading, particularly at the youth level. I will also encourage Instepper Mentors to do the same.
To be fair, the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) has done a lot in recent years to address the harmful effects of heading. In 2015, USSF banned players U11 from heading balls during practice and games (scroll down). This was a great first step! But more can and should be done.
A common misconception is that the negative side effects of concussions, head trauma, and CTE mostly affect star athletes at the end of their careers. As the “Stop Hitting Kids in the Head” page points out, concussions and repetitive head impacts to young athletes can have deadly consequences.
Whatever sport you are involved in, join me in doing our part to “Stop Hitting Kids in the Head!”