White House concussion summit opens with introduction from Huntingtown’s Tori Bellucci

President Obama is hosting a day-long summit on concussions and youth sports Thursday at the White House — a discourse aimed at finding new ways to identify, treat and prevent serious head injuries, with youth sports as a focus.

Huntingtown senior Tori Bellucci, an All-Met soccer player who elected to forgo playing soccer in college after she suffered her fifth concussion, introduced the president Thursday.

Bellucci held a full scholarship offer to play soccer at Towson in the fall, but the aftereffects of multiple concussions took a physical and emotional toll.

“It changes the way you think and feel,” Bellucci, 18, said. “I was just like really sad, really kind of desperate type of feeling. I couldn’t do anything because of my head, so I would just be in my room with the shades drawn. I was like, ‘I don’t want to live like this anymore.’ “

While concussions and preventive safety measures in football have generated headlines from the NFL down to the youth level in recent years, the frequency of concussions and repeated head injuries in girls’ soccer is alarming.

According to High School RIO (reporting information online), an injury surveillance system built by Dr. Dawn Comstock of the Colorado School of Public Health, only football and boys’ hockey players report concussions at a higher rate than girls’ soccer players.

In his brief remarks Thursday, Obama discussed the importance of sports in American society, and the need to ensure the protection of youth who play them.

“We want our kids playing sports,” Obama said. “As parents though, we want to keep them safe.”

Read Chelsea Janes’s full story on the challenges of reducing concussions in girls’ soccer here.

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