Beyond a Calculated Risk: Concussions in the NHL an Epidemic

The first assignment in my Feature Writing class was to cover a hard-news story. Being the sports nerd that I am, I decided to report on concussions in the NHL.

My report includes data on the number of concussions in the NHL since its internal study concluded in 2004. For those interested, I linked each article/website referenced in my feature and included audio from the interviews I conducted for this story.

The NHL is not the most transparent professional sports organization, especially when it comes to an issue like this. So, for the graph on the number of concussions since 2004, I had to pull data from three different independent sources, therefore, the numbers may be a bit higher from the ones released by the NHL (if and when they do so).

Since the final product was almost 1700 words, I decided to split it into two parts to make it a bit easier to read online.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the issue, as well as any thoughts or criticisms of my article. Enjoy!

Part 1: A Mind-Boggling Issue

Part 2: The Double-Edged Sword

Part 3: Interviews



Archers softball team preparing for 2012 season

The Montage published a shortened version of this article on February 8, 2012.

Practices are in full swing for the softball team as they prepare for their inaugural season as the STLCC Archers.

During the process of consolidating athletic teams last year all across STLCC, it was decided that Meramec would host the softball team. Along with becoming accustomed to new uniforms, new teammates and a new head coach’s voice, the 2012 STLCC Archers look to bring their talents together.

“I didn’t think [consolidating the teams] was a bad idea, because by combining all the teams, you will be taking the best players out of each school to create better teams for all sports,” freshman outfielder Kayla Becktol said.

However, not all of the players were as pleased as Becktol with the athletic department’s decision. In fact, just seven of the 21 freshmen from last year’s individual teams returned to play under the new format, including pitcher Dani Whitehead.

Whitehead, who played for the Meramec Magic last season, garnered first team all-region honors after racking up 50 strikeouts. She briefly transferred last fall.

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O’Keefe kicks it off for Archers

The Montage published this article on January 25, 2012

Photo: STLCC Press Release

New men’s soccer coach Dan O’Keefe has had success at every level during his playing career.

In 1979, as a senior at McCluer High School, O’Keefe scored 39 goals, which was fourth most in Missouri state history at the time, before moving on to Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville (SIUE), where his career mark of 27 goals scored is tied for twelfth most in school history.

Professionally, O’Keefe played for six different teams over ten seasons and was the National Professional Soccer League’s all-time leading scorer by the time he retired in 1994.

While O’Keefe’s experience and local ties were important factors, it was athletic director Johnna Kinney’s confidence in his ability to immediately start scouting new players that was the determining factor in her decision to hire him. The timing of now-former head coach Mike Mayberry’s departure made it imperative for his replacement to hit the ground running in terms of recruiting.

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Franklin, defense shine in Black and Gold game

The Maneater published this story on April 16, 2011

With the starting quarterback job up for grabs and the inexperience of the three candidates for the spot, there has been a special focus this spring on defense and the running game. That extra attention paid to the ground game and defense was on full display at this year’s Black and Gold Game.

“It’s always good to be a real good defensive team. Anytime you have a good quarterback and you run the ball the better it can be,” coach Gary Pinkel said. “I think a lot of times you have to see where you are at and where you are going. We have a lot of good players and both quarterbacks are very talented, so we just have to see what happens.”

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Haith adds three members to coaching staff

The Maneater published this article on April 15, 2011

Men's basketball coach Frank Haith speaks to the media April 5 at Mizzou Arena. Haith added three new members to his staff this week. (Photo: Nick Agro)

Missouri men’s basketball coach Frank Haith filled three positions on his coaching staff Wednesday afternoon with the hiring of Tim Fuller, Ernie Nestor and Todor Pandov. All three will begin working with the team immediately.

“We are certainly excited to make this announcement,” Haith said in a press release on “There are a number of qualities you look for when organizing your staff. You want energy, integrity and an ability to mold and shape young men on and off the basketball court. We have that with the hiring of Tim, Ernie and Todor. I couldn’t be happier to have these three men and their tremendous families join us at Mizzou.”

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MU introduces Haith to fans

The Maneater published this article on April 5, 2011

Head men's basketball coach Frank Haith speaks to the media and members of the MU administration on Tuesday morning at Mizzou Arena. Haith laid out his goals for his new team and expressed excitement for being chosen as the new head coach. (Photo: Nick Agro/Senior Staff Photographer)

The Frank Haith Era has officially begun at MU. Haith, who was officially named Missouri’s men’s basketball coach Monday night, was introduced to the public at a news conference Tuesday morning.

“It’s truly an honor to be here with you today,” Haith said. “I feel like I’m the luckiest man in the world. I have felt the passion already and that’s why I’m here.”

In his first meeting with the players early Tuesday morning, Haith stressed the importance of family and relationships.

“Yesterday was the toughest day I’ve had, because I had to tell those guys in Miami that I was no longer going to be their coach,” Haith said. “So, I know what [the Missouri players] felt when Mike [Anderson] told them that he was leaving for Arkansas. But I told them, I’m not going to be Mike Anderson, I’m going to be Frank Haith.”

Haith also told the players that he intends to pick up where Mike Anderson left off in terms of building the program, but that they have to buy into his system to be successful.

“What he did here for five years, he’s taken this program to be very competitive nationally,” Haith said. “We have great, great people along with really good players. We will win here. We will win big and that was expressed in that meeting this morning with these guys. We want to win and we want to win big. We talked about how that happens, the commitment they have to make, and I think they understand that.”

With a record of 129-101 at Miami over his seven seasons at head coach, Haith’s hiring drew some harsh criticism. Despite the backlash from many of the fans, Haith said he was actually encouraged by their reaction.

“I don’t look at the negativity I’m hearing so far as a negative, I look at it as a positive because that’s why I’m here,” Haith said. “That’s what I want. I want that passion because I want to win. I want to cut down nets. I am not taking it the way you think I should take it. I take it as a positive. I’m excited about doing that here. I’m excited about what we have here to get that done.”

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