Risk versus reward

By Caroline Sweeney

Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Graphic by Paul Trap

An estimated 11,000 college athletes are diagnosed with concussions every year and about 350,000 athletes die from sudden cardiac arrest per year, according to the American Physical Therapy Association.

This could be why former NFL Quarterback and Hall of Famer Brett Favre says he is “afraid” for his grandkids to play football.

In an interview with CNN, Favre explains that he knows the consequences of playing football, and he knows that these consequences can be life-threatening. However, Farve is still not entirely discouraging his grandkids from playing football.

According to the University of Missouri Health Care, physical activity and athletics offer many benefits for young people. These benefits include student athletes at any level doing better academically. Sports provide an outlet for students to get away from the stress and pressure of academics; participating in sports teaches teamwork; and the obvious health benefits athletics impart.

“It is a good experience to be involved in a sport, especially in college,” said Sarah Deangelo, Wellness Coordinator for DCCC. “Sports offers not only health benefits, but also allows students to be involved with the college. They are a part of a team and a community.”

However, with the recent extensive research into sports injuries, specifically concussions, many are wondering if the positive aspects of sports outweigh the chance of life-changing injuries.

“I believe that when you are competing in a sport, injuries are bound to happen,” said Suni Blackwell, director of Wellness, Athletics and Recreation via email. “Athletes don’t go into a sport thinking about getting injured. If this is the case, most athletes will not work hard due to being cautious.”

Deangelo explained how important it is to keep athletes safe. She added that the college is constantly tending to fields, making sure the ground is ready. Also, maintenance is conducted on sports facilities to make sure all equipment and floors are in shape for the athletes.

There are also DCCC trainers at every home sporting event, who treat the student on the spot and continue to follow up with the student after the injury, Deangelo added.

Despite these precautions, severe injuries can occur.

In 2002 Dr. Bennet Omalu discovered the degenerative brain disease of chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE, in NFL players.

The condition occurs when someone has had multiple hits to the head. According to experts, that does not mean just concussions; however, any head impact could lead to CTE.

The NFL has been at the center of ongoing controversy surrounding concussions, CTE, and how the league handles athletes’ post injuries.

The NFL has finally acknowledged the connection between football and concussions.

According to the NCAA, if athletes start a contact sport at a younger age, they are more likely to be diagnosed with CTE because of the constant impact.

The younger the athletes are, the longer it takes for them to recover from a concussion because their brains are not fully developed, according to the Concussion and Brain Injury Clinic.

Blackwell and Deangelo both agree that concussion protocol is so important for any sport. “We have to do a better job at the youth sport level educating offering trainings for coaches, parents and players on how to treat and/or avoid concussions and sport injury,” Blackwell said.

According to the Journal of Child & Adolescent Substance Abuse, minor injuries also have the potential to become a life-changing event. Painkillers for injuries have become “the dirty little secret” of the sports world, the journal notes.

Athletes, even at the college level, have easier access to pain-killing medication because these athletes do not always need a prescription by a doctor to obtain them. Especially in a contact sport like football, trainers have the access to these medications and hand them out freely to athletes who feel they need them.

It is common that athletes take the pills to stop the pain without allowing their bodies to recover, making even a small ankle sprain more dangerous, reported the American Addiction Center.According to the American Psychiatric Association, despite all of the facts and figures on the risks of sports, the majority of athletes, both college and professional, will take that risk.

In an interview with the American Psychiatric Association, Ronald Kamm, director of Sports Psychiatry Association in Oakhurst, N.J., said, “[Sports] have become a religious experience for many participants.”

Kamm explained that sports are an important part of people’s identity. He describes sports as providing athletes and fans a sense of belonging, that leads to why athletics are so beloved to some.

“Passion psychologically drives people, in both athletes and fans,” Kamm said. “To win and be the best is intoxicating. It is a driving force that cannot be stopped.”

Contact Caroline Sweeney at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

Phantoms stay focused towards season’s end

By David Schwartz

Phantoms forward Alvin Davis attempts to kick the ball past MCCC’s defense on Oct. 14 at Montgomery County Community College. Photo by David Schwartz

The men’s soccer team’s season came to a close with a 2-1 road loss to Bucks County Community College in the opening round of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division III Region XIX Playoffs Oct. 21.

The Phantoms final regular season record of 7-6 led to an 11 seed in the playoffs. Bucks County ended their regular season with an 11-5-1 record and a 6 seed.

Bucks County midfielder Howard Haas scored the first goal in the 27th minute, which gave them a 1-0 lead. They extended the lead to 2-0 in the 85th minute with a goal scored by forward Ilia Borisov.

DCCC avoided the shutout with a penalty kick by forward Luke Maruca in the 89th minute to cut the deficit to 2-1. Goalie Joseph Messina ended the game with six saves out of eight shots on goal.

The loss left the Phantoms with a 7-7 record for the season in what had been a “fantastic, growing experience,” according to head coach Ryan Griffith, who just finished his 14th season.

“It’s not about perfection, it’s about progression,” Griffith said. “Once the boys progress from a day-to-day basis and focus on the student athletic portion [of the season], then they will be successful on the field.”

The Phantoms faced adversity a week prior when they suffered an 8-2 loss on the road to Montgomery County Community College. After MCCC led 2-1 at halftime, they broke away and outscored DCCC 6-1 in the second half due to multiple defensive breakdowns.

Phantoms forward Abu Bangura scored the only goal. The team’s other goal was scored due to a deflection by MCCC into their own net. Messina saw plenty of action by recording eight saves out of 16 shots on goal.

“It is what it is at this point,” Griffith said as he addressed his team after the loss. “It’s over and done with.”

Griffith knew the team needed to keep their composure and stick to the “keys of success” to win the team’s final regular season home game 4-2 Oct. 17 against Harrisburg Area Community College.

“We have about six keys every game,” Griffith said. “One of [those keys] is 90 plus minutes of defensive intensity and we didn’t do that.”

The team stuck to that key against Harrisburg to finish the regular season. Messina had five saves out of seven shots on goal while forward Juan Saravia led the scoring with two goals, along with a goal by Maruca and Bangura each.

Phantoms Coach Ryan Griffith talks to his team during an injury timeout on Oct. 14 at Montgomery County Community College Photo by David Schwartz

As the season came to a close, the Phantoms earned accolades with Maruca and forward Shamour Young earning spots on the Eastern Pennsylvania Athletic Conference (EPAC) All-Conference First Team. Young also made the Region XIX Division III All-Region Third Team.

Maruca finished the season with three goals and three assists, while Young finished with five goals and two assists. Messina closed his season stat line with 83 saves out of 131 shots on goal and one shutout.

“I was really shocked and excited,” Young said on making All-Conference and All-Region. “My goal is to get a scholarship so it’s another step towards that goal.”

Contact David Schwartz at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

Make soccer safer

By David Schwartz

Josh Shore, 23, of Newark, Del. has been playing soccer almost his entire life. Growing up in southeastern Pennsylvania, Shore played for numerous club teams and was captain of his soccer team at Garnet Valley High School in Glen Mills, Pa.

Throughout his athletic career, Shore has succumbed to multiple concussions. Most of the concussions were from soccer, along with a few from hockey and lacrosse. Officially, he has been diagnosed with eight of them. “I might have had more,” Shore said as he explained his history of concussions.

As he entered his 20’s, his symptoms of concussions persisted over time. By late 2015, he was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome. Prior to being diagnosed, Shore experienced memory loss, anxiety, and random mood swings.

During the fall semester of 2015 at Delaware Technical Community College, Shore had to withdraw to start treatment as soon as possible. “I’ve had to miss school for a week or two at a time,” Shore said. He was also told by his doctor that he would no longer be allowed to play contact sports, including soccer.

Shore is one of many young athletes who is currently dealing with post-concussion syndrome. The U.S. Soccer Federation has been raising awareness on the issue of concussions and how they can affect the lives of players during and after their athletic career.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 3.8 million concussions occur in the United States annually through sports and recreational activities, but only 5-10 percent are diagnosed.

According to the CDC, a concussion, which is also called a traumatic brain injury, is caused by a blow to the head that disrupts the normal function of the brain. The severity of a concussion can range from “mild” to “severe.”

The CDC explains that symptoms include memory loss, headaches, blurry vision, nausea, dizziness, sensitivity to noise, balance problems, anxiety, depression, and irritability. A number of these symptoms will show up right away, but others may not be noticed until days or months after a concussion.

According to the Weill Cornell Concussion and Brain Injury Clinic, symptoms for post-concussion syndrome will include short-term memory loss, difficulty concentrating or completing tasks, and feeling “slower,” along with the symptoms of a regular concussion. Long-term effects of concussions are still being studied.

The Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has stated that individuals who continue to report symptoms of a concussion months after the initial brain injury have exhibited emotional distress and poor physical functioning.

In 2014, the Concussion Legacy Foundation helped launch the Safer Soccer Campaign. They stated that their mission is to educate parents and coaches on the benefits of delaying the introduction of headers, which means hitting the ball with your head, until high school.

According to the Concussion Legacy Foundation, attempting to head the ball and colliding is the number one risk of concussions in youth soccer, causing more than 30,000 concussions each year. That is nearly one third of all concussions in youth soccer.

In November 2015, U.S. Soccer adopted a series of safety initiatives aimed at addressing concussions in youth soccer, including rules that prohibit players ages ten and under from heading the ball and the reduction of headers in practice for 11 to 13-year-old players.

“These guidelines are a major victory for the Safer Soccer campaign and a fantastic first step in making the world’s most popular sport safer to play for children,” Concussion Legacy Foundation Director Chris Nowinski said. “Together the supporters of the Safer Soccer campaign showed there is widespread support for the elimination of headers for children and U.S. Soccer heard our message.”

Along with the new guidelines in place for youth soccer, the struggles of Shore and many other athletes with post-concussion syndrome are raising awareness in the continued efforts to reduce concussions in organized sports.

After getting the help that he needed, Shore was able to return to school the next year and further pursue his studies.

Shore continues to suffer from symptoms of post-concussion syndrome every day and has missed class on several occasions. He is still taking medication and is being evaluated on a monthly basis.

Although he is not allowed to play contact sports, Shore has learned how to play golf over the last year. He has been playing at various courses with his friends in Delaware and southeastern Pennsylvania and has been improving his game.

“It sucks not being able to play soccer anymore, but since golf is basically the only sport I can play now, I decided to give it a shot,” Shore said. “It’s helped me feel better.”

Contact David Schwartz at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

Phantoms’ head coach leads players to success on and off the field

By Brian Devine

Photo of the 2016 Phantoms Soccer Team. Head Coach, Ryan Griffith (left), and assistant coach, Steve Weatherby (right), led the Phantoms to their first playoff appearance in four years with a 7-5 regular season record. Photo by Ryan Griffith.

In his 13th year as head coach of The Phan- toms, DCCC’s soccer team, Ryan Griffith led his club into the play- offs with a 7-5 record in the NJCAA region 19 standings. Although the Phantoms were defeated in the first round against Sussex County Com- munity College, Griffith’s team showed resiliency as they won their final three regular season games to clinch a playoff spot.

What Griffith is most proud of is how his players fare off the field. Griffith says he instills values such as teamwork and dedication in his team, and he wants his players to use these skills to succeed in school as well as in their daily lives.

Griffith says he started playing soccer once he was old enough to walk, and received coaching from his father. When Griffith was a student at DCCC, he played for the Phantoms, which is how he began his coaching career.

As an athlete for the Phantoms, he took on responsibilities such as running practices and was offered the coaching position the following year.

In a recent interview with the Communitarian, Griffith talks about the team’s season, and his coaching philosophy.

Q: How did it feel to make the playoffs this season?

A: It was fantastic. It’s been four years since we made the playoffs. It was quite an accomplishment for the guys. Going into the season, that’s where we wanted to be. Our expectations were a little bit more than what we achieved this year, but overall it was still a really good achievement based on the personnel we had on the field and definitely our goalie, Kyle {O’Brien}, who never played soccer before.

He pretty much took one for the team and decided to become goalie three weeks before the season started. So we had to turn him from a novice defender to a novice goalie in a matter of three weeks before the season started. I knew we were going to have some growing pains there, which we did throughout the season. And the guys on the field were very supportive. All 16 guys were actually very supportive of Kyle’s decision to play goalie.

Overall, it was a great season. It’s fun every year because they essentially start out as competitors against each other, and then they become brothers at the end. And some, not necessarily all, because it usually takes two years the majority of the time, the players go from boys to men. They grow. The maturation process between the lines becomes real, and outside the lines as well.

Q: In your 13 years coaching at DCCC, would you rate this season as one of the most successful?

A: I rate every season as successful because, essentially, soccer is one of those games where you have to rely heavily on your teammates. Every season is a success based on what they accomplish as individuals coming out of the season.

The whole idea is to grow: grow as a soccer player, not just from skillset, but from the understanding of the game. And then obviously, from a student athlete perspective, we always stress that the student comes first.

Last year, for instance, we had the highest GPA of any athletic group, so we want to continue that going forward. But every year is definitely a success. It’s not just based on soccer alone.

Q: How hard is it to find students willing to commit to the team if they also work outside of school?

A: Unfortunately, we run into this issue every year. It’s tough even from the time I played because in community college, most student athletes have either part-time or fulltime jobs. They have school and other responsibilities as well.

And then from a transfer standpoint, you have to weigh if they are going to give up one or two years eligibility based on how serious they are about their athletics. So it is hard, and obviously from the community college standpoint, there aren’t scholarships from the athlete perspective.

They are coming here based on the previous talents of the team before, word of mouth, and obviously myself and coach Steve {Weatherby} as well. So it is tough to retain these guys and getting players.

And with 13 years, like I said, every year has been successful. And it’s great to forge these relationships with these kids because when you look back on it now, guys I coached in the first five or six years, they reach out to say, “Hey coach, I appreciate what you’ve done for me, not just as a player but as a man. ” These guys are married, they have kids. They say, “We’ve seen what you’ve done with your kids on the sideline, and now I have a son.” Stories like that. Those hit home.

Q: What was the best moment of the season?

A: I would say in our final game. Obviously, it was a defeat and a tough one, but they finally as a collective group played the entire 90 minutes, even after they were down one goal. It was good to see them committed to the game. They committed to each other. And they committed to the process. I was very, very pleased by that. Although they lost, it was the happiest I was the entire season because they didn’t give up at all. There was no quitting.

Q: What was the lowest point?

A: I wouldn’t consider any of it a low point. It’s only the process. Obviously, you start at the base, so if there’s a low point, it would be training camp, starting from scratch. But there’s no actual low as far as morale or anything like that. You just start at the base every season, and you progress throughout the season.

B: As a coach, what is the most important attribute you look for in a soccer player?

A: Teamwork. The ability to work with others. It’s not an individual sport. You have 10 guys with you on the field at a time, so collectively, it’s a group effort at all times.

Q: How do you motivate players to play together as a team?

A: You have to motivate each player separately and then collectively as a group. Once you get through to each player, and get their buy in, then you can get through to the entire group. But you got to start with each player. And then collectively, you can build from there.

And that’s basically getting to know each player. Once you figure out what makes them tick, whether it’s from a practice session, from technical work, tactical, to just straight up from a motivational speech, you have to find out what makes them tick. And then, you find out what makes the group tick, and then you go from there.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

A: I guess for next year or any players coming in, we are looking for primarily selfless players. Anyone who is willing to commit to the team. Once you commit to your brothers on the team, we will find a spot for you here at Delaware County Community College.

Together Everyone Achieves More — TEAM. I’d also like to add that without my assistant Steve, none of this would be possible.

Contact Brian Devine at Communitarian@mail.dccc.edu