High school soccer player Sydney DeMasi earns Concussion Legacy Foundation's Teammate of the Year award for her commitment to player safety

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

(BOSTON) - The Concussion Legacy Foundation (CLF) has announced Sydney DeMasi from Somerville High School in Massachusetts as the Teammate of the Year for her outstanding commitment to a teammate in need. CLF is now accepting nominations for the 2018 Teammate of the Year.

Teammate of the Year is awarded as part of the Foundation's Team Up Speak Up program, which has coaches give a speech to their athletes letting them know that it is their responsibility to look out for teammates and report concussions when they suspect them.

Injured athletes often cannot recognize when they have a concussion, or feel pressure to stay in the game. The goal of Team Up Speak Up is to create a positive concussion culture and make sure athletes with a possible concussion are removed and checked immediately.

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Good teammates are always there for each other. But when it comes to concussions, it can be difficult to know when it’s the right time to step in and get help for a teammate.

The Teammate of the Year from the 2017 season showed us how important it is to Speak Up on a teammate’s behalf when you suspect they might have a concussion.

Sydney DeMasi from the Somerville High School Girls Soccer team went above and beyond to protect her teammate Samiyra.

With only a few minutes left in one of the final games of the 2017 season, a forceful kick by the opposing team struck Samiyra directly in the forehead. Sydney witnessed the ball hit Samiyra and noticed she was unsteady walking. So, as good teammates do, Sydney informed Somerville’s athletic trainer Michelle Kelly that Samiyra needed to be checked out.

The next day in school, Sydney sought out Samiyra to see how she was feeling. Despite Samiyra’s assurances that she felt okay, Sydney suspected that she was hurting. Sydney noticed Samiyra was squinting at the lights and she admitted to getting headaches. 

“Sami is not one to speak out when she’s hurt, she’s very quiet…[but] I was told by another teammate she was falling asleep in class which isn’t like her, so I told her to go see Michelle,” said Sydney. Still worried, Sydney followed up with Michelle Kelly and Samiyra later that day to be sure that she reported her symptoms. It turned out that Samiyra did have a concussion.

After being diagnosed with a concussion, Samiyra began her rest and recovery process right away. But not long ago, a concussion like Samiyra’s might have gone unnoticed and undiagnosed. It’s impossible for coaches and athletic trainers to monitor every player at all times, so occasionally concussions can slip through the cracks. That’s why looking out for teammates and speaking up when a concussion is suspected, the core principles of the Team Up Speak Up program, is so crucial to keeping athletes safe.

The soccer team’s positive concussion culture is obvious in Sydney’s actions and in how she speaks about her teammate. “Sami is a big part of the team,” said Sydney. “If she wasn’t able to play ever again because she got hurt worse, it wouldn’t just hurt us, it would hurt her. Soccer is something she loves and we all love, and we all want to be part of it together.”

“I’m very proud of what Sydney has done during the couple of years that she has been with the program, especially when she took initiative that night with Samiyra’s case,” said Somerville Girls Soccer Coach Tony Arias. “She is one of those people where if she wants something done, she gets it done. That’s her character and I was not surprised that she handled it so well.”

Kelly echoed Coach Arias’ praise of Sydney. “To be able to recognize that someone is in distress – make sure they’re ok – realize they’re not ok – and to tell somebody about it then make sure the follow up happened, I think that’s something pretty remarkable. We don’t see that all the time.”

The Concussion Legacy Foundation is proud to present the Teammate of the Year Award to Sydney and hopes that more athletes follow her outstanding leadership.

The third annual Team Up Speak Up Day fell on September 12, 2018. The Concussion Legacy Foundation’s goal is to reach the more than 44 million youth athletes across the country with this important speech. Sign your team up for the program that is changing the concussion culture at TeamUpSpeakUp.org, and nominate an exceptional athlete for the 2018 Teammate of the Year award here.

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