Concussion almost ends college career

MONICA RICHARDSON; Guest Writer: richarml@plu.edu

Imagine this: brand new in college, scared, thousands of miles from home while having a brain bleed. Think you could do it?

Nicoya Benham-Marin is a senior Pacific Lutheran University women’s soccer player who dedicates her life to the love of athletics and kinesiology. She plans to graduate this spring with a kinesiology degree and concentrations with exercise science. Her plan after graduation is to receive a masters in strength and conditioning in Massachusetts.

“I woke up, I was lying down on the ground, everything was so bright, I was hyperventilating.”

Beham-Marin is a pro when it comes to concussions. She has had three throughout four years. In her first year of college during a soccer game against George Fox, her head collided with another player in a corner kick, instantly knocking her to the ground unconscious.

“My limbs and my legs were functioning but my brain wasn’t. It was just bleeding,” Benham-Marin said, not making eye contact with me. “It was really scary honestly”. When Benham-Marin regained consciousness, she was frazzled and dazed. Athletic personal, and her coach, Seth Spidahl were making sure she was okay. She wasn’t.

When asked about support, Benham-Marin instantly smiled, remembering all those who helped her.

“Athletics was really supportive, they have the best interests of the athletes in mind. And health is number one,” Benham-Marin said.

Benham-Marin smiled even wider as she talked about her friends and wing. Elena Oelfke, who was one of her very good friends at the time (and still is), recounts the worst part of the whole experience: “Not knowing when it would get better.”

The worst part being Benham-Marin’s friend through this process was the uncertainty of  if and when Benham-Marin was ever going to recover. Every one of her friends was by her side, making sure she was taken care of since home was thousands of miles away in Idaho.

Stanford Health reports: “An estimated 40 percent of athletes are returning to play sooner than current guidelines would suggest”.

According to Sport Concussion Institute, five-ten percent of athletes will experience a concussion throughout their athletic career. Benham-Marin was one of those athletes. She has had not only one, but three concussions throughout her college career. “I made it through my senior year without a concussion” she said happily.

While recapping her experience with a concussion, Benham-Marin discusses how important safety is through athletics. Having a concussion can lead to slower reaction time, harder time focusing on activities and school work and forming sentences before you speak. All this happened to Benham-Marin.

Even today, Benham-Marin and her friends notice her slower reaction time loss of attention through simple activities and classes. Although she said that it could of been a lot worse (death), this is something she is forced to live with for the rest of her life.

“It wasn’t easy. When tough times come in your life, it may not be easy, but don’t allow the situation to run your life, it’s going to get better,” Benham-Marin said. 🅼

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