He tried to catch himself in mid-air to control his balance, but instead he slammed his head on the ground.
Josh Papes, sophomore defender for the Webster University men’s soccer team, experienced the feeling of living in a dark room because of a concussion he sustained this season at an Oct. 24 practice. Papes suffered another concussion on Nov. 9 of this season in the NCAA tournament game against Dominican University (Ill.), but this one was not as bad as the one he suffered in practice.
The day after defeating Fontbonne University (Mo.) 2-0, Papes was at practice and went up for a head ball along with teammate junior midfielder Korey Gauvain. Gauvain accidentally elbowed Papes in the head in mid-air.
Papes said he blacked out when he fell to the ground.
“Apparently, my teammates said I blacked out for a second,” Papes said. “I couldn’t catch myself and I slammed my head on the turf.”
After the collision, Lori Khazen, Webster’s athletic trainer, had Papes take the baseline test again (see Page X for more information on the baseline test). Papes failed the baseline test, and Khazen told Papes he had symptoms of a concussion and would need to get it diagnosed by a doctor.
“I felt like an out of body experience,” Papes said. “It’s like you’re there, but you’re not completely there, so like, you’re walking around, trying to gather your thoughts but you can’t focus on anything.
“I was sensitive to light, sound. I couldn’t remember the first 10 minutes before it happened, but I can remember the start of practice.”
After practice, teammates of Papes drove him to the training office in the University Center for his parents to pick him up.
Papes returned to the soccer field Nov. 5, just in time for the first round of the national tournament. Papes missed three games due to his concussion. He missed the Greenville College (Ill.) game and the two games in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship tournament.
Papes was happy to be back on the field with his teammates and coaches.
“I felt relieved that it was over, but I was nervous,” Papes said. “You will know that you’re a little hesitant to go up for a head ball again, but when you get that first hit in, you usually are fine. I was fine and the nerves went away.”
Papes has had four concussions overall in his athletic career. He suffered two in high school at McCluer North High School in Florissant, Mo. Papes is a two sport athlete for Webster — he also plays men’s tennis — and is studying advertising and marketing communications. Papes said his professors understood the circumstance that he was in and pushed back his assignments until he returned.
“I missed a couple of classes just because I couldn’t deal with the light or sound,” Papes said. “Basically I would be sitting at home in a dark room doing nothing. I just tried to fall asleep.”
Ever since his incident on the practice field, Papes hasn’t been getting any headaches at all. He’s just trying to remember the 10 minutes before the collision happened.