Youth Sport Podcast
This episode is Part 1 of 2 Parts on Head Trauma, Contact Sports, ALS and CTE.
Matthew Onyshko is a former NCAA Division 2 football athlete who is battling a condition called CTE ALS. Officially a CTE diagnosis cannot be determined until after death yet this is what Matthew’s doctors suspect he has. Ellen Degeneres highlighted Matt’s story because his amazing Firefighting team worked extra shifts to cover Matt’s salary after he was no longer able to work due to his progressing ALS disease.
I asked Matt to share his story with me after reading Dr. Julie Stamm’s book “The brain on Youth Sports”. In her book she shared that there is an increase in developing ALS due to playing contact sports and sustaining head impacts.
Matt would like to share his story and his experience in the hopes that we can do better in sport, specifically in contact sports like football. He hopes sport organizations, and those involved in the organizations, do better with the research that is currently available. This means making changes to limit the amount of head impacts athletes sustain and having health and safety guidelines to protect and warn athletes of the risks they undertake.
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Here’s what Matt and I talked about:
- Matt’s younger years playing football and what practices/coaches/Athletic Trainers were like
- How tackling came on the scene and how he was taught how to tackle
- Concussions and Head impacts as a young football athlete
- What football did for him as a person and for school/opportunities
- Playing College Football, the pressure, the risk, the regret
- Brain disease: ALS and CTE
- How it felt to be diagnosed with ALS
- How ALS dramatically changed Matt’s life
- How Matt believes college football is the reason he has ALS today
- Matt’s advice to coaches/parents/kids
- Matt’s passion to make change in youth sports
- What life is like for Matt now
- Why Matt wants organizations to be honest about what the research is showing in regards to head impacts in sport and their risks
- The changes that Matt recommends in youth sport
- The need to create a culture to be able to speak up and talk about injuries
- Sport identity
- The emotional work processing a terminal disease
- Matt’s statement to his coaches in college.
And now…the full conversation:
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