Teamwork takes on many different forms in hockey.
USA Hockey and the Concussion Legacy Foundation have joined forces to make Oct. 20-26 Team Up Speak Up Week.
During the week, USA Hockey and the Concussion Legacy Foundation are encouraging coaches and team leaders to raise awareness of concussions through discussions with their teams. The goal of Team Up Speak Up is to ensure athletes tell a team leader if they notice concussion signs in a teammate.
We spoke with Kevin Margarucci, USA Hockey’s manager of player safety, to discuss Team Up Speak Up Week and related issues.
Q: How has concussion awareness changed in recent years?
A: Fortunately, concussion awareness has been brought to the forefront of a lot of people’s minds because of what’s going on at the pro levels. Obviously, the youth game is a lot different than the pro game, but, nonetheless, that has brought the awareness to everybody.
USA Hockey takes into account the latest medical research that is out there and tries to educate everyone involved in the game to the best of our ability. Based on the information available, USA Hockey has put in place and continues to advance policies and protocols for concussion management and return to play.
Q: The culture of sports often is to try to fight through some injuries or a little bit of pain, at times. Can you explain, based on what we have learned so far, why it is so important that it cannot be the case when dealing with a head injury?
A: The thing I’ve always done with my experience as an athletic trainer is preach to parents, coaches and athletes that you need your brain for the rest of your life. Even if you aspire to be a pro athlete, you’re not going to do that if you do not take care of yourself. Any injury is indicative of that, but head injuries can be more serious and have some long-term effects.
The NHL just put out a concussion education video, and there are a couple athletes who stress that players shouldn’t have a “tough-it-out mentality.” They have to do the right things to recover the right way.
Not only do they know that, but they also know they have support from their coaching staff, the support staff and even their teammates.
That culture of being a tough player and getting patted on the back for toughing it out is not there anymore. We need to get that message to the grass-roots level.
Q: Where did the Team Up Speak Up Week idea originate?
A: The Concussion Legacy Foundation started this program in 2016 and reached out to us to be a supporter of it. It started as a one-day campaign, but last year we both wanted to expand it to a week in order to help raise awareness.