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There’s a salty, somewhat foul scent wafting in the air surrounding the wrestlers locker room, which is tucked away in a remote basement hallway. Sitting next to me is Malachi Grimm, the newest coach to join the team’s roster, and also close to finishing his junior year. Grimm comes from a Latino background, which he says has taken a part in his interest in the sport, one he’s competed in since the age of four. He’s also held a spot on the team’s varsity lineup, that is of course until earlier this year. Grimm has now become one of the big bads, not because he’d rather not compete, but because IHSA guidelines (and general health) now prevent him from doing so. Grimm has had several injuries throughout his career, but none have impacted him as much as his concussion. Well, all four to be exact.
Grimm says he was practically born into the wrestling world, and finds he’s completely captivated with the wrestling environment, from his teammates to his coaches, and even the grueling practices.
“Many people become like your brother; you see them every day. In some cases we travel around and we have to stay in the same rooms as each other, so many of us grow a brotherly bond,” Grimm said. He gave praise for his coaches too, stating that they were the ones who help them prepare for what comes after high school.
This emotional journey, which has made up the greater portion of the last twelve years of his life, is at an end. Grimm says he can’t even recollect a single thing from any of the incidents, leaving him unsure how the injuries actually occurred. “The only thing that I can remember is the music I played before the tournament,” Grimm said.
The question provided by Grimm’s athletic story remains, what should a student do once they have received a brain damaging injury? Should one return to the same full contact sport, find something less physical, or is it best to take it easy and move on to a mentor position like Grimm has chosen?
A concussion is hardly a rare occurrence, although preferably avoided, especially when competing in such contact sports, such as wrestling or football. According to studies performed by Mayo Clinic, a concussion can be described as, “a traumatic brain injury that affects your brain function. Effects are usually temporary but can include headaches and problems with concentration, memory, balance and coordination.” Almost always brought on when one’s head is struck with immense force, it is not something that is immediately worrisome or endangering to one’s health. However if one preemptively returns to play, then, according to Mayo Clinic, the condition will without a doubt worsen, and recovery will need to be extended.
IHSA guidelines require that an athlete must be symptom free for at least 24 hours before making a return, though some athletes question whether or not that period seems to be long enough to provide an effective recovery. However, Central does provide a six day regiment set in place for rehabilitating students to begin participation in sports once again.
Grimm claims that the best plan of action for him would to have immediately dropped wrestling, and search for a new hobby to occupy his freetime. After the third concussion, Grimm says he now has occasional foggy moments in his memory.
After considering the dangers of continuing the sport he loves, he’s decided to apply his talents both in a way he enjoys and a way to benefit the other young prospects seeking a wrestling career at the school.