The 17-year-old senior at Belleville West is part of the growing number of players in a variety of sports who find themselves permanently sidelined by concussion and post-concussion syndrome.
“You know what? I’m not going to risk my life for high school football,” said Behnke, a Millstadt resident who got his second concussion while playing for Lutheran South in St. Louis County in 2010 and his third playing for Belleville West this season. “It was really tough. I really wanted to play. I didn’t mind so much my junior year because I knew I had one more year in me.
“But it really stunk not playing my senior year.”
In a story found in the Belleville News Democrat, Alex Behnke once was devoted to the sport of football, however at least three brain injuries later his perspective has changed. What started in the backyard turned into career ending concussions; a career ended by none other than the player himself. A decision that caught everyone off guard, the player making the call to “retire” early due to concussions, almost unheard of in high school.
Bahnke also is trying to let his fellow teammates know that he does not want them to lose their career as well;
Behnke said he has spoken to other players about his situation, urging them not to lead with their helmet when making plays.
“A lot of kids still do go head-first, it’s just really hard to get out of sync like that,” said Behnke, who plans to attend St. Louis Community College and study to become a firefighter. “I’ve told them don’t lead with your head because I’ve been there. You’ll really mess yourself up.”