On September 26, 2016, we posted a story by Corinne Atchison, a TAV coach in Dallas whose life was never the same after being concussed while coaching volleyball. The headline said it all:
“Hit by volleyballs: Concussions have changed coach Corinne Atchison’s life”
It became the single-most well-read story at the time on VolleyballMag.com and still remains one of the most popular ever. As a result of the story, Corinne was invited to be a presenter at the AVCA Convention. A link to that session follows.
We asked Corinne, now 38, to write a follow-up. Since her story came out, she’s not only had a baby, but has continued to be a fantastic coach: This summer her TAV team won the USA Volleyball 13s Open national championship, the fourth time she’s won a club national title as a head coach. She also had one as an assistant.
By Corinne Atchison for VolleyballMag.com
I still have cranial therapy once a week. But I am doing better.
I still have to see my concussion doctor every 12 weeks. But I am doing better.
I still have to wear glasses to control my double vision. But I am doing better.
I still struggle with over-sensory issues — things such as large groups of people, loud noises, bright gym lights — you know, everything you find in a gym. But I am doing better.
It’s been almost exactly four years when that first hit to my head changed the course of my life. The very thing I never even thought twice about, never cautioned for, never understood until it happened, well, it did happen to me and I have worked hard to put my life back together.
Two years ago I shared my story with the volleyball world. At the time, I had no idea the impact it would make on the community, nor for me, it was just my way of coping with something over which I had no control and no understanding. But, yet, I knew it needed to be told as a warning for others.
The response from all over the country was overwhelming.
SO MANY athletes thanking me and telling me their story and how no one listened. SO MANY parents asking advice because they had a child living the horrid nightmare of pain and suffering and not knowing what else to do. Coaches and trainers saying thank you for changing the way I run practice and warm-ups and sharing that knowledge. I get one to two phone calls A MONTH from parents in my region who I have never met but know my story, and are struggling with their own daughter’s recovery process and just looking for any kind of help.
Every person has said they exact same thing: They never thought it could happen, they never understood, they never empathized with someone until it happened to them or their daughter. Now they are stuck in this nightmare and trying to make sense of the situation, some of which could have been prevented.
I love this game. No, I LOVE THIS GAME! I don’t want to see the game change or parents not allow their kids to play because of the concussion issue. It’s an exciting sport to play, coach, be a spectator and I don’t want to take that away from anyone. I just want to see more protocols put in place.
I want to see coaches putting more thought into safety precautions when they run drills and warm-ups. I want adults to understand the ramifications of not allowing an athlete to fully heal before you put them back in that setting.
You’re right coaches, most people think those who have had concussions recover quickly and get right back on the court. I am 100-percent guilty of assuming the same thing. My first three concussions I knew of, I did recover quickly and I had no long-term effect. I didn’t even know you could have long-term effects.
Until it happened to me.
I haven’t told anyone but my husband, but about two years ago, I came across the game footage of me coaching immediately after the blow to my head.
We don’t have the actual hit, since the record button on the camera wasn’t hit until after warm-ups, but watching yourself struggle on video and re-living that entire moment, well, I almost felt like I was watching my death.
The pain and the struggles of four years after that moment, in a way, a little bit of me died that day.
But, as I always say, don’t feel bad for me.
Everything happens for a reason and you never have control over the timing of these things. After 2.5 years of therapy, I have gotten better. I was also blessed after nine years of trying to have children, I finally became pregnant and just celebrated my daughter’s 1-year-old birthday.
She is an absolute joy and blessing, and little does she know, she actually helped heal me physically AND emotionally. It’s crazy our bodies just have a way of healing itself and compensating for what is needed while you are pregnant. Both of my doctors (concussion and OB) had to keep close watch on me the whole time, but everything worked out great and somehow, my daily headaches are finally gone and my overall “symptom sheet” finally went down.
My daughter is my reason for everything. She’s my why I get up in the morning. She’s my why I continue coaching a sport I love and hope she will love one day.
She’s my why I keep going when I am not feeling good and struggling with my symptoms.
And most importantly, she’s my why as to why I will keep working to keep this sport safe and doing whatever I can to prevent something like this from happening to her.