Are abdominal injuries football's next concussion story?

At Taylor Haugen’s first game of the year, in 2008, the Niceville (Fla.) Eagles were playing their rival. The sophomore wide receiver reached up to catch a pass and was pummeled from the front and back. He tried to join the huddle on the next play, but struggling, his coach called him off the field. Her child wincing in pain, Kathy Haugen rushed to the fence behind the sideline. “When he came off the field, I knew. I just knew,” she said, describing her son as pale and gray. The team doctor bel

When painkilling becomes an addiction for young athletes

Cameron Weiss’ mom remembers the competitive streak in her blonde-haired, smiling boy who started soccer at age 5. “When all the little 5-year-olds would cluster at the ball, he’d be right in there, trying to get the ball,” she said, laughing. By the time he was playing football for La Cueva High School in Albuquerque, N.M., he was thriving in competition, becoming a wrestler, too. But it began to unravel. He broke his collarbone at football practice sophomore year. An urgent care center prescribed him the opiate Percocet — an oxycodone painkiller, which he took immediately and again after surgery. But afte

Former NBA player Chris Herren warns of dangers of painkillers

At the beginning of a promising NBA career, point guard Chris Herren was drafted in the second round by the Denver Nuggets, and the next year, played for his hometown Boston Celtics. He was also addicted to painkillers. “I was taking 1600 milligrams a day. A year and a half later I switched to heroin and was spending 25K a month,” he told USA Today High School Sports. Clean and sober since 2008 — after a car crash left him dead for 30 seconds — he now speaks to schools about drug abuse, includi

Gehrig's speech inspires others diagnosed with ALS

Eric Von Schaumburg, 30, of Chicago loves baseball. A White Sox fan who feels the words of Lou Gehrig's famous speech. The 75th anniversary was Friday. "I remember doing school projects on Lou Gehrig and running around the house, saying, 'I consider myself (myself myself) the luckiest man (man man) on the face of this earth (earth earth).' I thought it was the coolest and most inspirational speech ever. Then, things came full circle," the former high school second baseman writes when contacted

Pro figure skaters like Olympian Michael Weiss teaching skating for hockey players

You might not expect an Olympic figure skater to use the word “explosive” when teaching young hockey players on the ice. After all, figure skating is the epitome of quiet grace and elegant power, right? But three-time U.S. national champion Michael Weiss, 38, is doing just that, teaching explosiveness to high school hockey players at an ice rink in Reston, Va.  At a freestyle session after school one day, parents watch as their girls – perhaps the next Gracie Golds — glide and spin. But in the

Chasing Ghosts In a Civil Rights Era Cop Killing

Maevella Moore, 75, is like any doting mama and grandma. She beams with pride when she talks about her grandchildren, about how the kids and grandkids have gone to college and married, and how one grandchild is in law school. She'll say how she's even a great-grandma now to a 7-year-old. And like a proud wife, she talks about her husband. She'll tell you about how O'Neal Moore worked the late shift as one of the first black deputies of the Washington Parish (La.) Sheriff's Office. She remembers

When you don't feel a lump: Catching Breast Cancer Early- Three NoVA women share their stories

Nancy Zimini of Manassas, then 49, was surprised when the radiologist at Sentara Hospital asked to capture extra images of her right breast during her yearly mammogram. Eighty-five percent chance it’s nothing, she was told. “But there was this tiny gray-and-white cluster.” Zimini agreed to a biopsy in which a needle extracts suspicious cells during a computer-aided mammogram or ult

Mom advocates for CTE awareness following son's suicide after football career

As the national spotlight is on the first acknowledgement by an NFL official of a link between football and the brain disease CTE this week, Karen Zegel of Philadelphia wants to tell her family’s story, too. She blames her son’s suicide in 2014 on CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, found in autopsies of many former football players. Patrick Risha was a coach’s son and a football star in a Western Pennsylvania town deeply engrained in the game and then went to the Ivy League at Dartmouth

Trek to the big screen: the real 1987 McFarland, USA runners share their paths

When the Disney machine rolls into your farm town to tell your high school team’s story — you know, the one where you toiled as a kid for hours with your migrant worker family, pruning trees, picking peaches, raking walnuts and hoeing weeds, then you raced home to practice a grueling 6-mile run called for by a coach building against-all-odds champions, oh that little story? — it’s thrilling and humbling. Just ask Danny, David or Damacio Diaz, who, along with their 1987 cross country teammates a

Legendary cross country coach Jim White, the man behind McFarland: 'It’s all in the attitude'

Retired McFarland High School cross country coach Jim White speaks with joy in his voice in a phone interview from Hollywood, where they had an advance screening of Disney’s McFarland, USA, a based-on-a-true-story movie about the 1987 rise of a California state cross country championship contender from fields of migrant workers. The movie opens Friday. “Have you seen the movie yet?” he asks. “It’s really good. We showed it to 300 people last night at Pepperdine, because I went to school there.

Diabetes in play: High school athletes don’t let it stop them

At a camp three years ago when he was 12, wrestler Zach McCauley’s blood sugar level dropped. He says he hadn’t passed out yet, but was dozing in a corner. The coaches hadn’t shared the information McCauley had diabetes, and one saw him “sleeping.” “One of the coaches started throwing Post-it notes at me, saying, ‘This isn’t nap time!’ But my brother was there, and he said, ‘He’s a diabetic, he’s not napping.’” They ran to get the athletic trainer, who gave him juice immediately. He felt better

Jerry Colangelo urges sports business students: 'Don’t wait for someone to come for you … earn your spot”

It has been a hectic time for Jerry Colangelo, 76, who has built an almost 50-year career in sports management, from the youngest general manager in pro sports with the Phoenix Suns in 1968; a former owner of the Suns, Diamondbacks, Rattlers and Coyotes; to chairman of the Board of Governors for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and head of USA Basketball since 2005. Named manager of basketball operations on Dec. 7 for the Philadelphia 76ers, he spoke with USA Today High School Spo

Handling Threats: "I'm Going to Kill You!"

Norma Williams remembers the last time she saw her husband, Officer Tom Williams of the Los Angeles Police Department. Headed to a Halloween parade where she worked in Simi Valley, she was dressed as the Tin Man. Her husband of 18 years was getting dressed and offered to take Ryan, their six-year-old son, to school, since his wife didn't want to embarrass their boy with a mom who thought she was a "Wizard of Oz" character. "He said, 'I can't give you a kiss because of all the makeup.' And I sa

Officer Layoffs: Getting a Pink Slip

Maria Rivera remembers one of her toughest moments on the Camden (N.J.) Police Department. The single mom and an eight-year-veteran patrol officer knew how to deal with ugly things represented by ugly words: domestic abuse, fights, assaults, homicide. But nothing readied her for the words "laid off." In January, Camden laid off 168 on a force of 375 sworn officers. "It has an impact when you love what you do. When you have to turn in your badge, that's painful," Rivera says, her voice cracking.

Improving Police Mental Health Response

Officer John Jones of the Miami-Dade Police Department was the first to arrive at the dilapidated house in a poverty-stricken section of the city. He and his fellow officers had been summoned to the address by a caller who had alerted police that a depressed 18-year-old mom was threatening to hurt her 3-month-old son. Jones remembers it was a strange scene. Though police and sirens were blaring as backup arrived, a young man stood in the front yard on his phone, looking unfazed. Jones took out

Handle with Care: With Special Needs Children, Marriages Can be Fragile

Shelley* speaks softly about her realization that her “perfect” little boy was not perfect. Stevie*, now 5, didn’t walk until he was 21 months old, and didn’t talk until he was 3-1/2. His hours-long tantrums overwhelmed her. “He’d hit himself on his head, scream, and hit the floor. I tried everything—distraction, baths, feeding. My anxiety level was so high. I didn’t know what I could do to help my son,” say the Burlington County, NJ mom and nurse. “I’d call my mom and cry. Then I’d call my hus

Divorce: How to Survive Splitsville With Your Child Intact

Jackie*, married for 14 years and living in Middlesex County, remembers the moment she knew life was about to change. “My husband and I were fighting right in front of our 3-year-old son. When he stood up at the dinner table, covered his ears, and said ‘please stop fighting,’ I realized I was done,” she says. Later, she and her husband would sit in a restaurant and talk through their divorce, custody, and a schedule for their child. “My ex and I had the difficult conversations—divorce is just a
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