Concussion scares cause Chandler student to quit football SanTan Sun News

Concussion scares cause Chandler student to quit football

November 3rd, 2017 | by SanTan Sun News
Concussion scares cause Chandler student to quit football
Sport
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By Greg Macafee, Sports Editor

This past summer, Chandler High senior Devin Shivers caught a pass out of the backfield during a 7-on-7 football game at Northern Arizona University and turned his head to start up field.

“I caught the ball and as soon as I turned my head I felt – I even feel it now – all I remember was just going black. After that I think I fell, I don’t know,” Shivers said as he recalled how he suffered his third concussion. “All I remember was going to the bench.”

At the time the 17-year-old running back didn’t know It was an injury that would cause him to make one of the toughest decisions of his life and that recently came to fruition. Shivers decided to leave the game of football, a sport he has played since the age of 5, behind for good.

“It was a very hard decision,” Shivers said. “I don’t even know how it came up actually. I think we were just talking and it kind of came up, like what if I get hit again? What would be the consequences of getting hit again? After that, I started thinking and doing research. Then, a couple weeks ago we decided.”

On Oct. 15, Shivers posted a message on Twitter about his experience with his third concussion and how he came to his decision, saying his health was the most important thing.

During his recovery, Shivers said he suffered from multiple headaches and even experienced forgetfulness, which he added were much more severe than any of his past concussions. His mother, Tracey Chamberlain, noticed a lot of changes in her son as well.

“He had a lot more headaches, he was dizzy, his balance was off. That all came from when he took the hit and liquid got in his inner ear and caused the whole equilibrium to be off,” Chamberlain said. “I think that was kind of the major thing and it seemed to just carry on longer. Not doing well in school, can’t concentrate, having a hard time remembering. It’s hard, as a mom, to see what your son is going through.”

As a junior, Shivers was a part of the 2016 State Championship team and carried the ball three times for 74 yards and a touchdown in their 62-20 win over the Perry Pumas in the semi-finals. That performance came after switching from defense to offense, midway through the season. Heading this year, Shivers said he was ready to contribute in a big way before suffering his concussion, which played into his decision as well.

“It was very hard, coming off my junior year and then coming back and being one of the top athletes my senior year,” Shivers said. “Then getting hit and not playing at all really played a part in it. And then me playing football my whole life really took a big toll on me not playing anymore.”

Concussions have become a popular topic in the sport of football since the discovery of chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE, which is a degenerative brain disease found in those with a history of repetitive brain trauma. In CTE, a protein called tau forms clumps that slowly spread, killing brain cells.

At the beginning of the 2017 high school football season, the Barrow Neurological Institute released its newest findings on concussions in high school sports. The findings revealed that one-third of parents from around Valley would not allow their kids to play football. But because of the dangers in the sport, certain protocols have been installed to prevent as many concussions as possible.

Although he is leaving his playing days behind him, Shivers intends to help spread awareness of the dangers of concussions. He wants to help other football players who are facing the same type of struggles.

“I want to get my story out there, so people can hear my side, so that they can put that into their life so I can help them change their life,” Shivers said.

“He said, ‘I know if anyone ever has any questions or anything like that, I want to be able to help them because I went through it and I know how it feels.’” Chamberlain said.

Shivers says he wants to preserve his future and attend college, where he said he aspires to pursue firefighting and business.

– Contact Greg Macafee at gmacafee@timespublications.com or at 480-898-5630 or follow @greg_macafee on Twitter.

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