By Hailey Kinkade

Her elbow hit my head like a hammer hit a nail. I almost dropped to my knees, but I was not about to give her the satisfaction of seeing me cry. While holding my head I ran to the wall and put my forearms against it. Trying to see was a challenge because my tears were so prolific, it was all just a blur. Jill came over so see if I was okay. “ I’m done,” I kept repeating. “ Go! Go see Cesar now,” Jill demanded. I walked away from the wall still holding my head. Walking down the main hallway felt like forever. Everything was going in slow motion.

When I finally got to Cesar he knew something was wrong because I do not often cry. He looked at me and took a deep breath “Hailey what’s wrong?” he says. “I just got a concussion,” I said in a soft voice trying to hold back my tears. “ You know the drill,” he said. This was my fifth concussion, so he was correct, I did know the drill. For the next 15 minutes or so, I had to take tests on my memory and balance. Then I had to go take a test on the computer, my score was one of the worst he had seen. After that Cesar and I walked back to the training room. There I had to call my dad to tell him the news and to come get me.

My dad picked me up and we went home. As soon as I opened the front door, I ran up the stairs to my room. Walking into my room and seeing all my awards, trophies, medals, certificates and pictures reminded me that this would be the end of my sports career.  More like the end of my life. I sat on my bed for a long time just looking at all of that shiny recognition of my achievements represented a wide range of sports from basketball to dancing. I have never been more proud of myself. They ranged from things like basketball to dancing. That’s when I got up and walked downstairs. “ I need some big boxes,” I said.

My step mom and dad looked at me and started to laugh. “ Big boxes? You don’t need to be moving anything. You have a concussion!” said my step mom. I had sunglasses on so they could not see my face, but my gray t-shirt had tears stains all over it. My dad stood up and walked out into the garage. “How many do you need?” he yelled. “ About five,” I yelled back. He handed me five flat boxes. I thanked him and walked back upstairs. I began to open them up. They were huge, like boxes you would get for moving. The first box was filled with jerseys, shirts and uniforms: basketball, volleyball,  soccer, softball, tennis, track, cheer and ballet. The second box was filled with certificates, like you would get at camp for most improve or most likely to get a scholarship. The other three were filled with medals and trophies. Feeling overwhelmed I got into bed and fell asleep.

In the morning my dad woke me up.“ How are you feeling?” he asked. “The same as yesterday,” I responded, despondently.“ Do you want to go to the doctor’s today? You really need to” he said. “No. I just want to be left alone,” I defiantly replied. “Well, we are going tomorrow then,” he told me.  For rest of the day, I just stayed in my room.

Day 2. We went to the emergency room at Riverbend Hospital. My head was pounding just hearing the woman talk about how lucky I was to not have a brain bleed. Walking back from the MRI, I looked up at the tall lady standing next to me, “will I be able to play again?” I stuttered. “ Aww Honey, we will talk about that in a moment,” she said in a soft voice. We got back to the room to do a few more tests. Then she sat down and took a deep breath, holding her clipboard tightly. “I’m so sorry. No doctor will clear you to play. You have had five concussions, and if you’re smart, you have to be done with sports,” she said sternly like she meant it.

She and my dad went in the hall for a while so I could not hear. When we got released, we walked out and got in the car to go home. “ So I’m done,” I said. “ Yes, honey,” he said very slow. In that moment I knew I would never be the same again. After that, the car ride felt like forever because neither one of us said a word.

The next day I had to go to school. That was very hard. It was so loud and so bright. My mind was shut off, and all I could think about was sports. I just wanted to shoot a basketball. I only stayed the half day because it was too much. Now, every day at 3:00 I, think about being at practice. Game days are the worst.