Members of the Board,
My name is Mazie Green and I am the mother of Noah Green, a former soccer and football player at Alleghany High School, who was diagnosed after death with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE. CTE is a progressive and fatal brain disease associated with repeated traumatic brain injuries or TBIs, including concussions and repeated blows to the head. It was discovered in 2002, six years after Noah was born, by pathologist Bennet Omalu in the brain of former Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Webster who died from a heart attack.
Those at greatest risk for CTE are athletes who play contact sports and military veterans. It can cause memory and thinking problems, confusion, personality changes and/or erratic behavior including aggression, depression and even suicidal thinking and is not a laughable matter.
My son, Noah, suffered two known TBIs as a goalkeeper for the Alleghany Mountaineer soccer team. In the first incident, he and another player collided, and both were knocked unconscious on the field. In the second, Noah was kicked in the head by another player, lost consciousness, and suffered a concussion and a skull fracture. I believe because of Noah’s determination to be tough and play hard that he suffered other TBIs while playing football at AHS, Glenville State College, and Christopher Newport University as a defensive lineman. Concussions do not always cause a loss of consciousness.
Noah was not required to wear or provided with any protective headgear in soccer that may have prevented or lessened his chances for serious head injuries, and this is my concern. Our student-athletes who participate in contact sports do so because they love playing. We, as adults, must do everything in our power to protect them. Our brain is the most important part of our body. It controls what we see, what we hear, what we feel, our breathing, our heartbeats, our movement, etc., otherwise, it controls who we are.
Our student-athletes deserve to have full and productive lives and I am appealing that the protection of their brains become a major priority. CTE is not a mental illness but a physical injury. Virginia Tech evaluates the performance of protective headgear for soccer and football players and has issued 2023’s headgear and helmet ratings that are supposed to decrease TBIs. There are no excuses for our soccer players not to be provided with protective headgear, especially the goalkeepers. Football players should have guardian caps for their helmets.
They say there is no way to diagnose CTE until after an athlete dies, but I fervently believe with the help of this school board, our athletes, their families, coaches, fans, the medical community, politicians and most importantly our Lord God, we can change this. I sincerely thank you for allowing me to speak and pray for all who have been or will be affected by CTE. It is real.
Mazie Green- January 9, 2023