With concussions a common topic in sports news these days, most of the news is bad. In lacrosse, we’ve seen the ends of the careers of Merrick Thomson and Ken Montour and what is looking like the end for Phil Sanderson, who was released by the Toronto Rock in January. So it’s refreshing to hear some good news on the concussion front, and here it is: 20-year-old forward Nathan White says he is ready to resume his career in box lacrosse after fully recovering from a series of concussions that have kept him out of the game for most of the past three years.
White has played 23 total games for the Peterborough Junior Lakers: 14 in 2010, 8 in 2011 and just one last summer. He was going to Onondaga Community College but was told by the school last fall, midway through his second semester, that he would not longer be able to stay because the school felt he was too big of a liability risk. The shock was all the greater, he said, because he was feeling really good and hadn’t heard a word about it from the school—they broke the news in an email to his parents.
“My dream of being a college lacrosse player is definitely not over,” White says. “I’ve just got to find another way, I guess.” In the meantime, “I can’t even express how excited I am to get back on the floor. I’m like a little 10-year-old, I swear,” White enthuses. He’s going to have to wait a little while because Junior Laker practices don’t start till about March 23, but he’s got his stick in his hands every day, playing wall ball to keep his stick skills sharp and get ready for the big moment when he gets back in the box.
His journey to the good place he is now in has been a long and painful one for him, both physically and emotionally. White suffered a series of concussions playing the box game, starting in 2010. He was forced to sit out and he went through the usual array of symptoms. He had headaches, couldn’t stand too much light, was irritable and short-tempered. He also, he admits, had a chip on his shoulder back then.
White is hoping the Lakers coaches—Head Coach Mat Giles and assistants Tracey Kelusky and Dan Carey—will “realize that I’m a little bit older and a little bit wiser now” and welcome him back to the team. “I wasn’t very good at communicating with them when I was there, which is a reflection of how young I was,” he says. Now, though, White says he appreciates what the game means to him and understands “what coaches are trying to tell me. Now I don’t question it.”
As far as being ready to play the game after so much time off, White says he isn’t worried one little bit. Besides running and lifting weights, which have packed extra muscle on his now 5′8”, 180-pound frame, “I’ve just been thinking a lot, thinking about in-game situations and how I would handle them. I don’t think I’ll be too rusty. I’ve still got my quickness and I believe my enthusiasm will help me get right back into it.”
His recovery was helped significantly by a series of Bowen Therapy treatments by Marianne Beacon, White says, and he feels “amazing, normal. Honestly, I feel great.” He understands why people would be a bit skeptical, he says, and that is part of why he reached out to IL Indoor to tell his story. “I think people have the wrong impression why I came home and why I didn’t play box lacrosse last summer. I just want to get what actually happened out there, so I don’t have to hear about people inventing their own stuff.”
Among the inventions, he said, is that he is now “a vegetable, just too concussed to play.” White says he has also heard that he demanded a trade from the Lakers either “out west or to Burlington, where my best friend plays.” Neither is true, he asserts, pointing out that he had heard the Lakers were planning to trade him so he told them that if they did, his preferred destinations would out west or Burlington. But that is his last choice, he says. ““I want to be a Laker. I don’t want to leave.”
That will be partly, of course, up to the Lakers coaching staff. The team has a strong nucleus returning from last year and is widely expected to be a strong contender for the OLA Jr A championship and the Minto Cup. The coaches will need to believe White has matured the way he says he has. They’ll also need to feel comfortable that he isn’t too much of a risk.
The coaches certainly have experience with the issue. Kelusky has enjoyed a long and successful career despite multiple concussions. Carey, on the other hand, recently retired at the age of 30 because of his brain trauma problems. So it’s hard to say where they will come down on the topic of having the oft-concussed youth on the team.
For now, though, all that is beyond White’s control. He hopes that he can resume his young career as a Laker and he’s practically bubbling over with excitement to get going. It’s a far cry from the time he had to spend in a dark, quiet room recovering from concussions. Right now, Nathan White is feeling great and he can just picture himself under the bright lights of a lacrosse arena.Stamp is a TV sports announcer and lacrosse lover whose skill set made him a defender but who always dreamed of being a goal-scorer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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