(Project Brain Wave) High school football is one of the most exciting, defining, and proud markers of American culture, and is a level of play that to many, extends beyond being just a game. The dreaded months of training camp, the long hours in the weight room and practice field, and the time spent studying playbooks to perfect a team’s system all contribute to the same goal—that being the unforgettable feeling of standing beneath the lights on a Friday night before your home crowd, set to take on the opponent you have prepared for. This feeling that empowers our student athletes, that makes our parents proud and supportive, that makes our friends anxious to witness game day, is what the coaches and players live for. High school football is defining, and is home to life lessons to be learned and experiences to cherish. But for the Fernandez family, the high school football season of 2008 is one they will never forget.
Drew Fernandez, a young up and coming running back for his high school’s football program that was known for state championships in seven of the previous ten years, was productive both on the field, and off the field, executing plays on the field and performing well in his studies in the classroom. His older brother had also been part of their high school’s championship legacy, and Drew was looking forward to contributing to such successes as well. His first year in high school was in 2008, and it would be the first time he would have an opportunity to be a part of his hometown’s illustrious football program also. According to his mother, Tracey, “football was everything to him.”
But such a mentality would soon be combated during one of his freshman football games, as Drew received the ball at running back during play, and then took hits from defenders in both the front and back of his head while he was being tackled. Drew had sustained a concussion, and would be removed from play. His mother told me of what events would then follow after her son took a blow to the head, resulting in his diagnosis.
“The trainer of the opposing team (the game was away) called me to tell me Drew suffered a concussion, and asked me if I wanted him to go back to school on the team bus or if he should call the paramedics,” said Tracey. “I asked him to call the paramedics, and I met them at the ER. The last thing Drew remembers from the day of his injury was riding on the bus to the game. He has no recall of the trip to the ER via ambulance or anything thereafter until the next morning when he woke up at home.” Continue reading