This year will be one that Sam Day will remember as a turning point.
After her fourth concussion in five years, she sat down with parents Wendy Boyd and Kevin Day to make one of the most important decisions in her sporting career: To stop playing hockey at a competitive level.
She missed half of her Richview Saints games due to the severe injury, and almost opted out of playing for her soccer squad — one that made it to the quarterfinals of OFSAA.
“It was definitely on the table with my parents, ‘Why risk it, you’re just coming off a bad (concussion)’, stuff like that,” she said. “I was so passionate about the team and we had so many young players from the year before that I knew our team was going to be solid.
“I didn’t want to miss out on it,” she added. “I proved to my parents I was ready, my symptoms were gone, I was doing well in school.”
Still, it was a tough road to recovery, and one that had her family hunting down all literature available.
“They were obviously very worried and obviously they’re out there to protect me no matter what, which I totally agree with,” she said. “We did a lot of research, my dad would keep sending me emails about articles on concussions.
“I’d have to read through them and talk about them,” she added. “They wanted me to make a decision knowing all the consequences.”
And the 17-year-old pulls no punches on hitting in girls hockey.
“I think girls should hit because we’re definitely not prepared for hits,” she said. “We don’t know how to take a hit nor do we know how to give one properly without hurting someone.
“If either we train or we give our girls the information to learn these skills, it would be great,” she added. “If we put hitting in at least they will know, and they’ll keep their head up.”
Media attention on concussions is something Day advocates.
“You’re brain is the most important part of your body,” she said. “If it’s turning to mush that’s not good.”
Knowing all the facts let her continue into soccer feeling no post-concussion symptoms.
That opportunity let her fulfill a high school dream of hers.
“I remember, grade 9 girls, sitting there and the one thing I wanted was to go to OFSAA,” she said. “Of course the last possible time I could go was with soccer.”
With Dalhousie University on the horizon, she plans on keeping up on the soccer pitch along with her studies in commerce co-op.
“My dream job is to get into sports marketing,” she said. “If I could get a job with Nike, that would be unbelievable.”
As for her OFSAA-qualifying footie friends, she has faith the Saints can go marching into the provincials again.
“Carly Sythes is going to be there next year and the girl is unbelievable,” she said. “Her, Kristian Kletke and Rachel Passarelli are all solid girls and I am very, very glad to be leaving that team in their hands.
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