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CTE in Hockey
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Schotzy



Joined: 03 Mar 2015
Posts: 192

PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2018 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

goldy313 wrote:
Schotzy wrote:
Yup. Seriously, this is not the place I am going to come to find this information, nor would I think for a second that it was the responsibility of the forum moderators to make sure it was here and in a place where everyone can see it. This forum is in no way an extension of the MSHSL, so why get all salty on Karl et all.

I understand the crusade, but disagree with the choice of battlefield.


I disagree with you on this point, Greybeard cites nearly everything and since the MSHSL and state law makes concussions a priority, and high school hockey is governed by the MSHSL it should be a topic easily found. Whether you choose to read it or do anything about is up to each individual but the information should be provided.

Also the FACT the MSHSL chooses to do only lip service to state law needs to be provided so it doesn’t look like an extension of the MSHSL. As Elliot posted most schools take concussions far more seriously than the MSHSL. At an MSHSL officials clinic in 2017 we as officials were told not to eject players for targeting fouls, contrary to the NFHS rule, and that we could not send a player to an athletic trainer for showing signs of a concussion.

The “battlefield” as you call it takes many fronts.

Combating concussions takes a 3 pronged approach; coaches, players, and officials. Coaching the proper technique, playing the right way, and calling the fouls. To take one of the 3 out hurts everyone.....to not teach the right way to check, to check improperly, and to not call the infraction hurts the game.....and at each part all should be held accountable.

Having a duckies and bunnies forum where everyone follows the MSHSL mantra is not what this forum has ever been. Debates on class structure, private schools, section alignment, etc. are debated annually......I don’t see why concussions, which are a major problem in all 4 major pro sports leagues and the biggest issue in contact sports should be buried.

Football participation rates at the 7-12 grades are falling pretty dramatically, the reasons are debated but seeing as overall fall sport participation rates are fairly steady due largely to an increase in cross country and trap shooting it is fairly easy to draw a conclusion. In Rochester, a town of 110,000 there are about half as many boy hockey players as there were when it was a town of 70,000. Economics play a role but you can’t ignore the real threat and cause concussions and risk there of play.


You are completely missing the point! It is not the responsibility of this forum to make your point more important than any other. Push it all you want, but don't expect everyone to get behind you. Just because the topic is not getting the amount of conversation YOU want, does not put the onus on the moderators to bump it to the top. Blaming the moderators for not sticking your topic in a place you deem appropriate, is simply ridiculous. It gets "buried" because the audience here is not the audience you need to target. Pretty simple really. Let's not forget your approach either. You come on here and get all "preachy" to everyone, and you lose, not only anyone who might listen, but now we are talking about you and not the topic you want to promote. Basic Marketing 101; know your audience.

Again, this forum is in no way an extension of MSHSL. Go yell at thew MSHSL about "burying" the issue. Again, I don't dismiss the issue, but I am dismissing the messenger in this case.
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goldy313



Joined: 05 Mar 2002
Posts: 2923

PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2018 7:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ugh!

I am not missing your point at all. I do not expect Karl to do anything (other than maybe admit hockey exists south of the I94 -494 corridor). I do think the topic is of extreme relevance though, enough so that it pops up many times a year and the debate to eliminate checking is gaining momentum. Put it all into one thread and let it go on or die as people who post seem fit.......don’t bury it in a little read girls thread is all I ask. It is their bored, they can do as they please but as long as I am not banned I will advocate for active discussion on this topic. Active does not mean we all agree, in fact the more opinions the better.

As for preaching, I am not doing that...other than making rules then not enforcing them is a problem. (From concussions to recruiting to enrollments to penalties in state tournaments etc.) As for the MSHSL, on this bored they are not very popular judging by the posts made over more than a decade. They have their heads in the sand more than any entity in my opinion on many issues....and that is topic worthy of discussion (and regularly is here).

Nearly everything Greybeard posts has nothing specifically to do with girls hockey. Yet it is allowed to exist, but why not allow it to exist where it can have the maximum exposure? Whether anyone chooses to read it is up to them, and even then they can make up their own minds. Put it where the most people can at least know it exists and make their own decisions from there.....
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Jeffy95



Joined: 17 Nov 2015
Posts: 547

PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2018 8:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

goldy313 wrote:
Ugh!

I am not missing your point at all. I do not expect Karl to do anything (other than maybe admit hockey exists south of the I94 -494 corridor). I do think the topic is of extreme relevance though, enough so that it pops up many times a year and the debate to eliminate checking is gaining momentum. Put it all into one thread and let it go on or die as people who post seem fit.......don’t bury it in a little read girls thread is all I ask. It is their bored, they can do as they please but as long as I am not banned I will advocate for active discussion on this topic. Active does not mean we all agree, in fact the more opinions the better.

As for preaching, I am not doing that...other than making rules then not enforcing them is a problem. (From concussions to recruiting to enrollments to penalties in state tournaments etc.) As for the MSHSL, on this bored they are not very popular judging by the posts made over more than a decade. They have their heads in the sand more than any entity in my opinion on many issues....and that is topic worthy of discussion (and regularly is here).

Nearly everything Greybeard posts has nothing specifically to do with girls hockey. Yet it is allowed to exist, but why not allow it to exist where it can have the maximum exposure? Whether anyone chooses to read it is up to them, and even then they can make up their own minds. Put it where the most people can at least know it exists and make their own decisions from there.....


You're posting on a thread in the Boys High School Forum titled "CTE IN HOCKEY." What additional exposure are you looking for from the moderators?
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greybeard58



Joined: 22 Aug 2004
Posts: 1748

PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2018 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Athletes’ head injuries can provoke surprisingly long-lasting harm

Elite athletes are some of the strongest people in the world. They train day after day to prepare for national and international competitions. Many hope to stand on the Olympic podium with a gold medal. For every athlete who succeeds, though, many others are derailed by injury. And not all of those injuries will be visible.

But elite athletes are not the only ones at risk. Nearly 1 in 5 U.S. adolescents, for instance, have sustained a concussion. This is a particularly nasty type of head injury. The statistic comes from a new survey reported September 26 in the journal JAMA. And more than 1 in every 20 teens, its data show, reported having been concussed two or more times.

Affected athletes may not be able to compete again for weeks, months — even years. Indeed, scientists and doctors had long thought that concussed people could safely return to regular activities once their symptoms went away. New data now dispute that.

Stopping concussions before they happen may be the only way to prevent long-term damage to the brain and how it works. That’s the conclusion of the researchers behind these studies. And although anyone can sustain a head injury, athletes in many sports face a special risk. Among those most likely to incur a concussion are those who play football and hockey. Those taking part in the winter Olympic sports of snowboarding, skiing and bobsled also are at risk.

Particularly disturbing, new research shows that even without a concussion, head injuries can lead to long-term damage. They may even lead to a brain disease known as CTE.


Athletes’ head injuries can provoke surprisingly long-lasting harm
Even as symptoms from concussion and other injuries fade, brain impairments may last years
Read more: https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/athletes-head-injuries-can-provoke-surprisingly-long-lasting-harm
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goldy313



Joined: 05 Mar 2002
Posts: 2923

PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2018 6:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Two threads that started here were banished to the girls topic. Stop doing that. That is what I ask.....beside acknowledgement good hockey exists south of the I94 - 494 corridor.

And ban the the letter M from the alphabet....a million dollars Laughing

Greybeard does thankless work....

There are people on this bored smart enough to save contact sports, their opinions need to be heard and put down. The status quo will not do it, the people in the MSHSL and coaches association proclamation that football and hockey are safer than ever are laughed at. Nobody really believes that.

But there is a way forward. People on this bored have ideas and potential solutions. An active discussion helps this. Don’t minimize the impact this bored has. The solution lies beyond state administrators, beyond the Supreme Court deeming gambling legal. It lies with the parents of 10 year olds hoping the best for their kids. I trust the open minds of this bored more than administrators. The moderators eh?

From open discussion come solutions.
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Jeffy95



Joined: 17 Nov 2015
Posts: 547

PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2018 7:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

goldy313 wrote:
Two threads that started here were banished to the girls topic. Stop doing that. That is what I ask.....beside acknowledgement good hockey exists south of the I94 - 494 corridor.

And ban the the letter M from the alphabet....a million dollars Laughing

Greybeard does thankless work....

There are people on this bored are smart enough to save contact sports, their opinions need to be heard and put down. The status quo will not do it, the people in the MSHSL and coaches association proclamation that football and hockey are safer than ever are laughed at. Nobody really believes that.

But there is a way forward. People on this bored have ideas and potential solutions. An active discussion helps this. Don’t minimize the impact this bored has. The solution lies beyond state administrators, beyond the Supreme Court deeming gambling legal. It lies with the parents of 10 year olds hoping the best for their kids. I trust the open minds of this bored more than administrators. The moderators eh?

From open discussion come solutions.


Football and Hockey actually are safer than they've ever been. A lot more awareness nowadays. My buddy played D2 Football in the 90's. He was a fullback. He spent every 2 1/2 hours of practice in s collision with the middle libebacker. Times have changed.....:
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goldy313



Joined: 05 Mar 2002
Posts: 2923

PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2018 7:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Literally one of the dumbest posts ever.

Math does not support this.
Concussion data in practice is non existent.
Concussion data in games is a new subject and the data is so new an objective history is now only being baselined.

We can safely assume concussions are increasing, however detection is also increasing. Saying it is safer goes against all science, underdecting previously is valid, as is over detecting it now. The current science is that we have underestimated it.
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greybeard58



Joined: 22 Aug 2004
Posts: 1748

PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wonder why studies show many hockey players don't take concussions seriously?

When the National Hockey League announced in late 2011 that Hockey Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine would star in a weekly documentary called Making of a Royal about his coaching of a Midget rep hockey team, the league promised an “unprecedented” series with behind-the-scenes footage.

The 24-part series about the Long Island, N.Y., Royals was shown on the NHL Network, NHL.com, and the NHL’s YouTube channel.

Episode nine covered the issue of brain injuries in hockey, a particularly noteworthy subject because LaFontaine’s 15-year NHL career ended due to post-concussion symptoms.

Six days before that five-minute Making of a Royal episode was posted on YouTube on Dec. 16, 2011, NHL vice-president of media relations Frank Brown ordered NHL video producer Ryan Bader to remove a section of LaFontaine’s comments about concussions.

“Once you get a concussion you are four to six times more likely to get another one – and it’s probably exponential from there,” LaFontaine said in a clip that was dropped from the show.

It wasn’t the only clip Brown asked to have removed.

“The closing quote from Pat LaFontaine about ‘A lot less mothers and fathers cringing, wondering when’s the next ambulance going out…’ MUST go,” Brown wrote in a Dec. 10, 2011, email to Bader.

Copies of Brown’s emails were included in a 256-page transcript of NHL public relations executive Gary Meagher’s Oct. 7, 2015, deposition in Toronto.

Meagher’s deposition was among more than 30 held in connection with the NHL concussion lawsuit, filed in a U.S. federal court in Minnesota in 2013.

Brown wasn’t deposed in connection with the NHL concussion lawsuit and Meagher said he didn’t know why his colleague demanded changes to the video.

“Why would Frank Brown from your communications group want that to be deleted from a video that was being produced by the NHL?” plaintiffs’ lawyer Mark Dearman asked.

“I don’t know the answer to that,” Meagher said.

Former NHLer Brendan Shanahan, then director of player safety for the league, also appeared in episode nine of Making of a Royal.
Brown also asked for an edit of Shanahan’s interview clips.

At one point, Shanahan said, “There’s a tremendous amount of peer pressure if you’ve got a banged up shoulder or a banged up knee, it’s sort of like, ‘Look, your ankle will heal over the summer, get through this, for us.’ But I think when there’s a head injury, the brotherhood wants to come together and protect the guy with that head injury.”

Brown ordered Bader to cut the rest of Shanahan’s quote where he said, “This might not end over the summer … it might affect him for the rest of his life … might end his career.”

Brown wrote, “THE FOLLOWING MUST BE DELETED” about another clip of the video that showed Shanahan on the ice in an NHL game “looking up/dazed.”

All professional sports leagues and companies, of course, are in the business of trying to shape a favourable opinion in the public eye. And yet with a high-profile concussion lawsuit being argued in a U.S. federal court, that is especially so for the NHL, whose executives paid close attention to the LaFontaine series to remove any commentary that might be considered negative or controversial.

“It’s our job as communications people to promote our league, to promote our game,” Meagher testified during his deposition in Toronto.
The depositions show that the league’s efforts to gauge and help shape public and media opinion about issues such as fighting, head hits and violence in hockey were ongoing long before the concussion lawsuit was filed.

NHL knocks out hard-hitting concussion comments
Read more: https://www.tsn.ca/nhl-knocks-out-hard-hitting-concussion-comments-1.1099155

Chris Nowiski: “Wonder why studies show many youth, high school and collegiate hockey players don't take concussions seriously? New evidence reveals NHL has been silencing legends like Pat LaFontaine and Brendan Shanahan, preventing concussion advice from reaching the public.”
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east hockey
Site Admin


Joined: 11 Dec 2002
Posts: 6617
Location: Proctor, MN

PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2018 5:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

goldy313 wrote:
Two threads that started here were banished to the girls topic. Stop doing that. That is what I ask.....beside acknowledgement good hockey exists south of the I94 - 494 corridor.

And ban the the letter M from the alphabet....a million dollars Laughing

Greybeard does thankless work....

There are people on this bored smart enough to save contact sports, their opinions need to be heard and put down. The status quo will not do it, the people in the MSHSL and coaches association proclamation that football and hockey are safer than ever are laughed at. Nobody really believes that.

But there is a way forward. People on this bored have ideas and potential solutions. An active discussion helps this. Don’t minimize the impact this bored has. The solution lies beyond state administrators, beyond the Supreme Court deeming gambling legal. It lies with the parents of 10 year olds hoping the best for their kids. I trust the open minds of this bored more than administrators. The moderators eh?

From open discussion come solutions.


Cite the threads.

Lee
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greybeard58



Joined: 22 Aug 2004
Posts: 1748

PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2018 11:57 pm    Post subject: Kyle's Story: Reply with quote

One of the youngest people in the country to be diagnosed with the degenerative brain disease

Kyle's Story: Minnesota Family Raising Awareness about CTE | KSTP.com

Kyle missed most of ninth grade because of recurring headaches. The pounding resumed even after what seemed to be minor collisions or hits to the head. A football to the head while playing catch at a Halloween party led to headaches for 14 months. All totaled, he'd suffered at least 10 severe concussions from grade school into high school, his mother said.

"I know when people look at it now they are like 'Geez, you didn't handle that very well,'" Beth said. "But at that point we hadn't heard of a concussion protocol."

In college, Kyle's pain, depression and anxiety had become overwhelming. In 2015, he committed suicide in his dorm room at the age of 20. In a suicide note, he wrote that the concussions "altered" his life.

"He told me on multiple occasions, 'Something is wrong with my brain – there is something wrong with it,''' Beth said.

Out of their grief, his parents became determined to find the answers that had eluded their son for so long – all in the hope to raise awareness for other parents whose children have suffered similar head injuries.

Beth and her husband Mike sent their son's brain to a Veterans Administration hospital in Boston, Mass., where researchers are studying the long-term impact of concussions and hits to the head.

An examination of Kyle's brain tissue revealed he had the early stages of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE.

He is one of the youngest people in the country to be diagnosed with the degenerative brain disease.

Researchers at the lab have diagnosed the disease – after death – in former professional football and hockey players, and veterans who have suffered repeated head trauma.

CTE, researchers say, is linked to symptoms that include memory loss, confusion, erratic behavior and personality changes – including depression and suicidal thoughts.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS was granted rare access to the lab earlier this year where Dr. Ann McKee, director of Boston University's CTE Center, explained how brain donations from families like the Raarups have expanded their research to include non-professional athletes.

"I can never wrap my head around these young people that have this disease," Dr. McKee said in interview.

Kyle's diagnosis had finally provided his parents with an explanation for his struggles.

"We were just relieved," his mother said. "If we had known about CTE, it would have changed how we approached multiple concussions."

Beth and Mike say that they do not want Kyle's injuries and death to frighten other families whose children are playing contact sports.

"Other kids on his team, they got hit in the head but they didn't have that prolonged problem with it," Beth said.

Instead, they said they hope their son's struggle increases awareness of the potential consequences of repetitive head trauma.

"People need to know about it so we can look at long-term effects," Beth said as she held back tears. "You don't ever want this.”

Kyle's Story: Minnesota Family Raising Awareness about CTE | KSTP.com
Watch the video: http://kstp.com/news/kyles-story-minnesota-family-raising-awareness-about-cte/4886728/
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greybeard58



Joined: 22 Aug 2004
Posts: 1748

PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2018 11:59 pm    Post subject: Kyle Raarup played hockey in Minnesota Reply with quote

Kyle Raarup played hockey in Minnesota

Kyle Raarup
September 24, 1995 - November 12, 2015

Kyle loved all sports, all his life. He played as much and as many sports as he possibly could, with football and hockey being his favorites. He was a fiercely competitive and driven athlete. He was naturally gifted with speed, agility, and great eye-hand coordination. He was a running back for football, offensive player in hockey, and could play any position he was put in for baseball. Kyle loved it all and loved the friendships that playing sports offered him.

As it is with any dedicated athlete, Kyle was hit many times with only minor injuries. Concussions, in our mind, happened when you got knocked out from a hit, or got your "bell rung". As the injuries continued and we became more informed about concussions we realized that Kyle had suffered many minor concussions from about 4th grade on. It wasn't until Kyle was in 8th grade and experienced a check from behind into the boards in hockey when he started having lasting symptoms that we could not control. He waited the recommended two weeks before playing again, only to be hit from behind again when he returned to play. This time he had such severe headaches and other symptoms that he was unable to return to sports or school. Each bump to his head after that caused increasingly severe symptoms for an extended amount of time.

Over the years of seeing innumerable doctors and other medical professionals, Kyle was diagnosed with post concussive syndrome. While it was nice to have a name for what he was going through, Kyle wanted something that would help his symptoms. This seemed to be an elusive goal. He was a trooper and tried every therapy, testing, medication, vitamin, whatever we could find to try to alleviate the pain and memory/thinking difficulties he was experiencing. None worked well, which was a source of great frustration to Kyle. He wanted his brain to go back to normal.

Kyle was able to attend college where he flourished with the assistance of the student services program that allowed him accommodations for his anxiety and inability to handle a lot of sensory input during testing. Kyle loved college and the friends he made there. He was outgoing, cheerful, energetic, and fun to be around. His continued struggles with his anxiety/depression, memory problems and a new stomach ailment overwhelmed him and he took his life on 11/12/15. His brain was donated to the Boston University CTE study in order to find out the answer to his nagging question "what's wrong with my brain and why can't it be fixed?"

In December 2016, we found out that Kyle was diagnosed with Stage I CTE along with some brain abnormalities (micro hemorrhages and hippocampus damage) that helped his family get some answers to that nagging question of "what was going on in his brain?" His suicide and the Boston University brain study has helped raise awareness in our community of the lasting impact that concussions can have on the life of a young adult. The loss of a child, brother and friend to many has hit us all hard and will be something that we struggle with for a long time. We are grateful to the Concussion Legacy Foundation for their research and to finally give us some answers, and for their efforts to continue to find answers for future athletes. Kyle would be proud to be a part of this important research and the continued efforts made to understand the devastating affects concussions have on young lives.

We miss him every day, but are proud of who Kyle was and how he has helped us and others understand mental illness and concussions.

By Kayla, Tyler, Mike and Beth Raarup
Read more: https://concussionfoundation.org/story/kyle-raarup
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goldy313



Joined: 05 Mar 2002
Posts: 2923

PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2018 7:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cite them.

Really?

Karl deletes them because they stray from the condolence they were originally started for. I mean, by gosh, a guy smokes 3 packs of cigarettes a day and we ignore that when he dies of lung cancer.....because that strays from what else he did in life.

Native Minnesotan and pro bowler Keith Fahrnhorst just passed away, as did his team mate Dwight Clark....just ignore the brain damage both had.....

Clearly this is the thread Greybeard needs to post in, it will survive or die on its own merits......unless Karl decides to banish it.
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karl(east)



Joined: 18 Jul 2007
Posts: 5855

PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2018 1:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Goldy, I literally have zero idea what you are talking about. Absolutely zero. If you would like to attempt to explain my alleged sins to me via PM, by all means do so, and I will use whatever tools I may have at my disposal to rectify the situation.

Otherwise, I think we are going to start enforcing one of the few rules this forum does have--"Admin policy is to be discussed via e-mail only, not on the board"--as you have done a marvelous job of hijacking this thread away from its intended topic by making it about me.
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greybeard58



Joined: 22 Aug 2004
Posts: 1748

PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2018 7:20 pm    Post subject: Tyler Hilinski Suicide: Aftermath of Washington State QB's Reply with quote

Even though this is about a football the story is important the same. From the SI web site

Tyler Hilinski Suicide: Aftermath of Washington State QB's death | SI.com

A College QB's Suicide. A Family's Search for Answers.
In the five months since Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski’s suicide, his family has tried to untangle the reasons he shot himself. During that harrowing journey they've honored their son and brother through a foundation, work in medicine, and by continuing to play his high-stakes position—while wrestling with frightening questions about mental health and the game they love.

Greg BishopJune 26, 2018
Watch Losing Tyler on SI TV. Our latest documentary chronicles the Hilinski family’s search for answers in the aftermath of tragedy.

Cards and collages line the entryway to the Hilinski family’s home in Irvine, Calif., everything signed with My deepest condolences and promises of prayers. There’s an oar from the University of Minnesota football team, a note from the Seahawks’ general manager and 20,000 wristbands stuffed in boxes, each stamped with a red number 3 and two words: Hilinski’s Hope.

The messages arrive daily, reminding the family of its new dichotomy. Now, there’s before Jan. 16 and after, life with Tyler and without him. It’s the difference between the photo the Hilinskis cling to and the envelope they cannot bring themselves to open.

The framed picture is blown up and rests on the floor of the entryway, against the wall. It’s what Kym Hilinski, the family matriarch, looks at when she wakes at 2 a.m., thinking things she had never thought, like, I hate my life. Her middle son, Tyler, never seemed happier than in that photo. It was taken on Sept. 9, 2017, four months before Kym carried his ashes through airport security and covered the drum set in the music room with wilting flower bouquets. Tyler is centered in the frame, wearing his crimson number 3 Washington State jersey, surrounded by fans reaching out to touch him. That’s her Sweet T, her Big Ty, her Superman. Even though he’s the backup quarterback, Cougars fans are carrying him like a deity off the field after he threw for 240 yards and three touchdowns in a triple-overtime 47–44 conquest of Boise State—the best game of his life.

Kym, as usual, covered her eyes with her hands at Martin Stadium that day. Tyler’s older brother, a medical student named Kelly, was halfway through his graveyard shift at an Ogden, Utah, hospital, stealing glances at his laptop between calls to the ER. His father, Mark, and his younger brother, Ryan, were at home in Irvine, causing such a ruckus that neighbors stopped by to check on them. Eventually, Kym found Tyler on the field, just after the photo had been taken. He put his arm around her. “Did that just happen?” he asked.

The photo showed Tyler as they knew him, before he entered a closet in a Pullman, Wash., apartment and fatally shot himself. Before the family needed answers and resolved to find out why. Now, the image both comforts and haunts the Hilinskis, reminding them of better times, together, as the closest of close-knit football families. But it also makes them wonder. Was Tyler’s happiness that day just a mirage?

Inside the adjacent living room, the picture is surrounded by binders stuffed with research on depression, suicide and traumatic brain injuries, as well as a letter from the Mayo Clinic that contains a potential clue—the autopsy of Tyler’s brain. The three letters that further complicated everything.

At the placemat nearest the photo, where on his final visit home Tyler might have eaten breakfast, there’s a Priority Mail envelope sealed with masking tape. It’s from the Whitman County Coroner. Roughly 10 feet separate the picture and the envelope, and yet the gap between what they represent—Tyler’s seemingly happy life and his inexplicable death—is vast. Closing the chasm between those two realities is the Hilinskis' most obvious path to closure. What they learn could soften their pain and lessen their confusion, pushing them forward, into mental health advocacy, where they can assign deeper, lasting meaning to Tyler’s life. The Hilinskis have been told the contents inside the envelope are graphic and even though they want to know, even though they have to know, they have not been able to open it. Not yet.

On the afternoon before he killed himself, Tyler Hilinski learned how to use a gun. His roommates say they had never even seen him hold a water pistol, and yet he took advantage of a rare sunny winter afternoon in Pullman to shoot at clay pigeons with several teammates. They taught him how to hold, aim and fire, then spent the last 15 minutes of their session coaching him up, cheering him on. He didn’t hit a single target.

Tyler spent the night playing Fortnite with teammates and his brothers, signing off after a six-hour session, only after they had won. When he woke early the next morning, he sent a group text to his wide receivers reminding them of a workout scheduled for 3 p.m. At 10:25 he pinged his ex-girlfriend and high school sweetheart, Sophie Engle, I’m sorry for everything. He also told his older brother he wanted to play Fortnite again later. When Kelly called later that morning, Tyler said he was in class.

“I love you,” Kelly told him.

“I love you too,” he said.

Tyler was moving into a new apartment and dropped off one of his new roommates, defensive lineman Nick Begg, at class around 11. That was the last time anybody saw or heard from him. When he didn’t show up for an afternoon workout, it was not only unusual—this was Tyler Hilinski, the most dependable of coach Mike Leach’s players—but also alarming. Enough so that Antonio Huffman, the assistant athletic director for football operations, dispatched Begg and fellow roommate Peyton Pelluer to search for him. After they failed to find Tyler at the apartment or at his girlfriend’s place and they couldn’t locate his car, Huffman called local hospitals and police departments, and urged officers to put out an APB.

“Watch
Huffman phoned Tyler’s parents. Kelly sent Tyler a text, offering to leave that minute and drive the nine hours from Ogden. “I thought, maybe, by being there, I could shake him,” Kelly says. “I could look him in the eyes and go, what’s going on?”

Begg could sense the panic in Kelly’s voice, rising with each call, cresting when Kelly noticed that Tyler had stopped sharing his location on his cell phone. The players doubled back to Tyler’s old digs, the Aspen Village apartment complex, where they found his car hidden in the back lot and saw his passport had been ripped apart and left in the vehicle. They pleaded with the apartment manager to unlock the unit, and when the manager refused, Begg and Pelluer stalked through overgrown grass to Building D and kicked in the green door to apartment 201. They checked the living room, then the bedroom farthest from the balcony, then the one adjacent to it. And once inside, Pelluer, looking into the open closet, saw Tyler, with the AR-15 lying next to him, a bullet hole through his left eye.

Huffman arrived just after the police officers, who looked at him and shook their heads. One just said, “I’m sorry.” Huffman phoned Kym, who threw her cell and called him a liar before suffering a panic attack. She spent part of that night in the hospital, wondering the same things that Mark wondered after he begged his oldest son to be wrong and after the organ donation organization called to ask about Tyler’s right cornea. Why hadn’t they seen this coming? Why?

Beginning that night and over the next few weeks and months, Mark and Kym would replay countless moments in their lives—starting with when they first fell in love, got married soon after college and had three boys who would gravitate to the same sport and the same position. Tyler was born after Kym’s water broke at Nordstrom and she hurried to the hospital, clutching her husband’s hand so tightly her knuckles whitened. “I did not let the nurses take [Tyler],” Kym says. “He slept on top of me.”

The Hilinskis were not a football family then. Mark, who later founded a software company, played quarterback and defensive end at Damien High in La Verne, Ca., and rooted for the Steelers; Kym, a lawyer, was a cheerleader but ambivalent about the game. The Hilinskis wanted to expose the boys to everything, so they skateboarded, took guitar lessons, played tennis, basketball and baseball.

Tyler was the easiest of the three. He never cried, never fussed. He loved action movies and video games and singing in the car at full volume. They found him goofy, and when he laughed, his nose scrunched up, reminding Mark, 52, of a young Jon Gruden.

The Hilinski brothers looked out for one another, although Tyler was the least confrontational. In fourth grade he tried to ignore a classmate who teased him for weeks about eating his peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on Hawaiian bread. Eventually Ryan, then a kindergartner, punched the bully in the face. Kym scolded Ryan, told him never to strike anyone, but she later told Kelly she was proud of her youngest, reminding him to “put your brothers and family before anyone.”

Tyler idolized Kelly, following him everywhere, especially into football. Mark and Kym had never planned to raise three college quarterbacks but all their boys grew tall and strong and possessed right arms that could whistle spirals. Quarterbacks they became. If Kelly and Tyler played on the same team, Tyler sometimes lined up at receiver, and in youth leagues, he played linebacker, earning the nickname Mini Urlacher for his punishing tackles.


As Mark and Kym looked back, they winced at all the hits Tyler delivered and endured. Kym, 53, had always worried about her football-obsessed sons. She preferred watching them in seven-on-seven camps, where defenders can’t touch quarterbacks. “I usually cover my eyes,” she says. “I’m so nervous that a big, gigantic linebacker is just going to come and truck my son. If I could Bubble Wrap them, I would.”

She also knew that her boys loved football more than they loved anything except one another, so she reluctantly drove them to practices and brought snacks to their teammates. Before Tyler’s junior season, he transferred to Upland High and won the starting job. He played like a lanky Brett Favre, scrambling, improvising, throwing no-no-no-no-YES! touchdowns off his back foot or across his body. Tyler’s coach, Tim Salter, called him Superman, in part to remind the quarterback he didn’t need to be heroic on every play. “But I do,” Tyler said.

At Upland, Tyler met Sophie Engle, and they dated for most of the next three years. They spent most weekends on the Hilinskis’ couch, playing with his yellow lab, Navy Blue, watching movies, ordering zucchini fries and engaging in burping contests. All those memories squared with the Tyler his family members knew; looking back at the first 18 of his 21 years, they had found no clues.

One story from years ago that Engle shared with the Hilinskis recently took on greater meaning after his death. She said she once told Tyler about a friend who had committed suicide, detailing the excruciating pain felt by those the friend had left behind. “You never know what someone’s going through,” Tyler said. “That’s so sad.”

Over those weeks and months, as he reviewed the events in Tyler’s life, Mark reminded himself to be realistic. “I’m not trying to canonize the kid,” he says. “I’m not trying to make him better than he was.” Moving from Tyler’s high school days into his college life, he saw what appeared to be the typical issues of early adulthood and wondered if they signified something more. If he scrutinized hard enough, there were signs. But how far back? Which were real?

Tyler chose WSU over the other four schools that offered him a scholarship, graduated early and arrived on campus for the spring semester of 2015. That first week he called home to say that he felt sad, as if he wanted to cry. “You’re homesick, sweetie,” his mom told him.

But that bout was hardly alarming. Kym went skydiving with Tyler that Mother’s Day, starting an annual tradition. He redshirted the next fall and backed up Luke Falk in 2016. He loved Leach and hung the coach’s Quarterback Commandments—3. Fat QB’s can’t avoid the rush; 11. Don’t be a celebrity QB—on the kitchen fridge. Other than what Tyler deemed a possible concussion sustained during practice his freshman season, nothing to that point appeared amiss. He called home in the evenings to analyze specific practice plays with his dad. They’d talk about his teammates’ problems with girlfriends, injuries or position coaches. Tyler didn’t complain. He drove one teammate to counseling sessions, let others borrow clothes or money, and yet not a single person could recall a time when Tyler asked them to reciprocate.

“The reality is we missed it and we let him down."
- Mark Hilinski
Leach says Hilinski nearly took Falk’s starting job before the 2017 season. Tyler’s old roommate, defensive back Kirkland Parker, says he expected Tyler to play in spots that year, start as a junior and “there was no doubt in my mind that he was going to make the NFL.” The Boise comeback showed Tyler what he was capable of. When Mark watches that game now, he sees something he didn’t see back then. “When he’d clap for the ball,” Mark says, voice quivering, “he wasn’t worried about anything.”

Last October, Tyler relieved Falk late in the second quarter at Arizona, down 20–7. In just over a half, he completed 45 passes for 509 yards and accounted for four touchdowns. He also threw four interceptions and Washington State lost. Sensing some distress in his younger brother—who also mentioned sustaining a hit that had “rocked” him—Kelly sent the rest of the family text messages saying Tyler was having trouble putting the defeat behind him. Kelly even drove to the Cougars’ game at Utah on Nov. 11 and consoled his brother on the balcony outside Tyler’s hotel room the night before, reminding him he couldn’t win every time in triple OT. Why not?, Superman responded. “He felt like he let everyone down,” Kelly says.


His family noticed other, seemingly minor changes in Tyler after the Arizona loss. He wasn’t as responsive to texts and calls the rest of the season, particularly in the lead-up to the Holiday Bowl, where he started in a loss to Michigan State. At one point, Mark asked Kym if she thought something was wrong with Tyler, and they determined he was just busy with classes and football and student life. That was the most difficult conversation, looking back. At a minimum, they had known something. “The reality is we missed it and we let him down,” his father says.

The last time his family saw Tyler, during a vacation to Mexico in early January, Kelly says “he was the happiest I ever saw him.” But when Tyler returned to school, his lack of responsiveness resumed. Kym sent a text asking, “Did you lose your phone” with a crying emoji. He replied not to worry. But after several additional messages went unanswered, she texted, “Is something wrong Ty?”

Kym sent another message on the afternoon of Jan. 16: Tyler please call me. That evening she found out he was dead. She looked back at every moment, wishing she had intervened more forcefully, tormenting herself over missed clues. When she looks back now at their pictures from Mexico, she sees a haunting sadness in Tyler’s eyes. Was that real? Or imagined?

The day after Tyler died, the family flew to Pullman. On the flight Kym silently wished the plane would crash and she’d be the only one hurt. Instead, upon landing, she steeled herself for meetings with medical examiners and detectives, learning that Tyler had left behind a note. Maybe, the Hilinskis thought, he had explained his decision, told them not to worry, absolved them of their guilt. Then they read the short message he had written and that only made them feel worse. That note—the Hilinskis do not want to publicly reveal the contents—offered no explanation, no I love you, no goodbye.

They learned that the school had quickly marshaled all available resources, getting counselors to the team within 40 minutes of when they found out Tyler died. Mark asked to address the Cougars with Kym, and when they assembled in the weight room, he looked out on young faces stained with tears. As the players hugged him and told their favorite Tyler stories, it became even clearer: His teammates didn’t have any answers, either.

During the Hilinskis’ time in Pullman they were able to glean details that only added to their anguish. How Tyler had searched with teammates for the rifle that he had already stolen. How police found a bullet hole in his car door and another in the room where he shot himself, surmising that he may have twice accidentally misfired the gun. But why had no one heard the shots?


They cleaned out his locker, hoping to find Tyler’s phone. They never did and that tormented them, the care he took to dispose of the one thing that might give them some answers. They visited the funeral home, asking a priest to pray over Tyler’s body, while Kym touched his hand and kissed him one last time. They decided to send his brain to the Mayo Clinic to be examined. It was packed in ice and mailed away.

Eventually, they started to wonder if what they were so desperately looking for even mattered—the more they learned the less it felt like they understood. They attended the vigil for Tyler, together, at the cougar statue outside the stadium. Thousands gathered. Kym wore her son’s letterman’s jacket. The band played. She read every note. Touched every flower. Then she turned around and saw his teammates, standing right there, everyone in the crowd holding up three fingers.

Kym sent Kelly a text message right then, redefining their mission, giving them a new kind of why.

“Hilinski’s Hope,” she wrote.

“What is that?” he responded.

“Our why,” she typed back.

“Our why for what?”

“Our why for getting out of bed every morning.”

Knowing she would receive no reply, Kym sent texts to Tyler in the weeks that followed.

Jan. 22: Hi Ty. I miss you so much. I love you.

Jan. 24: Hi Ty. I wish you didn’t leave me. I miss you so much.

Jan. 27 (the date of his memorial service): Today is going to be tough Ty. I am so sad and I miss you. I love you Ty.

March 8: Ty. I am mad today. Sad too. But so mad. You didn’t have to go. We would have figured this out. I love you T.

The family trudged forward, starting the Hilinski’s Hope Foundation—a non-profit designed to promote awareness and education of mental health for student athletes—making bracelets, coffee mugs, water bottles and dog tags, all stamped with 3 and the number for the national suicide prevention hotline.

“Support
Then the test results came back. First, the Whitman County medical examiner called to say that Tyler’s toxicology report showed no trace of drugs or alcohol. (“That actually made it worse,” Mark says.) The Mayo Clinic’s findings arrived next. Kym read the sentence—“After reviewing the tissue we can confirm that he had the pathology of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)”—and started to reconsider her entire search. The diagnosis was Stage 1, the lowest level. But still, Tyler was 21 when he died, he hadn’t played that much in college and for most of his life he manned the most protected of positions. If he had CTE, anyone could. She read that depression was one symptom for Stage 1 and a doctor told her Tyler’s brain looked “like that of a much older, elderly man.”

She didn’t want to blame football—to be clear: she does not blame football—and yet the diagnosis also gave her family its clearest and, in some ways, only known factor in his death. “It helped us to know,” Kelly says, “that a) there was something wrong and b) that he was hurting and we couldn’t understand it. It was, O.K., we have a legitimate why. That’s enough of that.”

“I just don’t give a f---. I don’t care. I love this sport. This is not what hurt him. I’m going to do everything that Tyler wanted to do with football."
- Ryan Hilinski, on his football future
Even then, Mark and Kym’s guilt remained strong, maybe even stronger. Tyler had played linebacker before high school, had played quarterback with abandon, had perhaps suffered that concussion as a college freshman and told Kelly that the hit he had endured against Arizona had “rocked him.” He must have been suffering in ways they could never comprehend. Being able to label what happened didn’t change what happened. It didn’t change the fact their son loved football. And that didn’t change how the sport he adored might have contributed to his death. And, on top of all of that, their youngest son, Ryan was about to accept a scholarship to play quarterback for an FBS program, starting in 2019. If his life mimicked Tyler’s—same genes, same sport, same position—would he suffer the same fate? Would Mark and Kym stop him? Could they?


Ryan’s parents decided to inform his decision, rather than make it for him. If he were 10, Kym says, “he wouldn’t play football because it’s too scary for me.” But Ryan is almost 18. His parents and doctor-to-be brother all read research papers on traumatic brain injuries, searching for links between CTE and mental illness; they called experts, asked questions and presented Ryan with their findings. Mark told Ryan that he could stop football that day, that they would figure something else out. Or he could continue and they would never cease searching for the latest in helmet technology, the most protective equipment, the best recovery techniques. They would make an inherently unsafe game as safe as possible. “I just don’t give a f---,” Ryan told them. “I don’t care. I love this sport. This is not what hurt him.

“I’m going to do everything that Tyler wanted to do with football. I’m going to do that for Tyler, to honor him.”

Ryan had found the way he would remember Tyler. They all did, eventually. Kelly had wanted to specialize in cardiovascular medicine but switched his career path to neurosurgery and decided in part to study CTE. Mark continued to work at the software company but discovered more solace in the impact of Hilinski’s Hope. The family formed a board, began to research best practices and spoke to experts about the most efficient ways to utilize the donations that poured in. Kym continued the skydiving tradition, renaming it Ty-diving, and took a trip with Kelly across Washington state to honor Tyler’s memory and thank the companies who donated to the foundation.

Even if Ryan knew he wanted to keep playing football, he harbored concerns. He chose South Carolina, where he would wear number 3 and study sports psychology. He did all of that for Tyler, and yet, deep down, “It scared me a little bit,” he says, refusing to suppress his deepest fears the way his brother had. “It made me step back and think, O.K., what if I get hit a couple more times? Will I [go through] what Tyler was going through?”

Robert Beck

Kelly says scared isn’t exactly the right word to describe the family’s relationship to football now. Kelly views the sport as a welcome distraction from Tyler’s death. He says that when he has kids—if he has a son, he’ll name him Tyler—he will let them play football, without hesitation. He wants the boy to learn lessons best gleaned in shoulder pads, to find pain and overcome it. But it’s not that simple, not for any of them. “I’m worried,” Kelly admits. “I’m worried Ryan might face the same signs and symptoms that Tyler had and he won’t be the same person that he was.”

The Hilinskis ultimately made the only choices they felt they had. Once they found a purpose, they backed off their search for answers and bottled their unease. They wanted to believe football would help Ryan more than it would hurt him. To think otherwise would be too overwhelming.

In therapy the Hilinskis continued to redefine their new life’s mission, shifting away from the why as much as possible and toward their therapist’s suggestion: how. This new framework helped them move forward. How could they prevent another suicide? How could they build a model for mental health awareness in college sports? How could they shatter stigmas so that football players like Ryan could voice their darkest thoughts without fearing they would seem weak?

The work they now feel destined for crystallized as winter turned to spring. They kept coming back to the stat that most alarmed them, that for males aged 15 to 34 suicide was the second-leading cause of death. They received thousands of letters and social media messages, from around the world. One of Tyler’s former teammates reached out to Kelly, saying he had felt compelled one night to find his struggling younger brother and tell him he loved him and give him a Hilinski’s Hope bracelet. The next morning that brother told Tyler’s teammate he had planned to kill himself the night before. That helped, a little, to know that they were not alone, to know that Tyler was not the only person suffering. Nothing they learned would bring Tyler back, but the fact that he helped save a life—that he would help save lives—brought the Hilinskis some comfort.

The stigmas, they decided, needed to change first. The family teamed up with retired quarterback Drew Bledsoe, whose son John played with Tyler in Pullman. “As men we have to learn to TALK about how we are feeling. . . . ” Bledsoe wrote in an Instagram post. “Reaching out for help when we need it is NOT a sign of weakness. Trusting your friends and asking for help is the ultimate sign of STRENGTH!!”

Mindsets needed changing. That they knew. Athletes who seek out tutors when they’re struggling in class or find doctors to repair torn ligaments needed to also use the resources available to aid their mental health. First, they needed to be aware that mental health resources existed. Washington State did have counselors and doctors Tyler could have seen. But they also needed more resources, more counselors, more programs, more of everything.

Tyler never asked for help. They knew that, too. He took on the same load as his teammates: classes and homework and girlfriends and position battles—and he never told his family or his coaches what he told two people: That he was having “dark thoughts.” That he was struggling. His family members think that he didn’t want to burden them. “It’s magnified in the sports realm, that resistance,” Bledsoe says. “They’re supposed to be 10 feet tall and bulletproof.”

They’re supposed to be like Superman. The Hilinskis want to change that, and more and more people want to join their cause. The teammates that held a benefit concert for their foundation. The students who started a mental health awareness fund at WSU. The folks who want to create a mobile mental health center in Pullman, making therapists available to come to patients.

Robert Beck

Mark believes his son would have had a better chance if the stigmas were less prevalent and better understood. He would start by banning guns in university-sponsored housing, even though it’s legal to carry certain firearms with concealed weapons permits in Washington state. “You have to understand the position I’m sitting in,” he says. “If that’s not there, he has to wait another day or week or hour, and sure, there are bridges to jump off and cars to crash if you really want to do something. But if he doesn’t have the gun, there’s certainly a better than zero chance of him surviving.”

He realizes how that might sound, the way gun enthusiasts would react. “This is where the stigma comes in,” Mark says. “Because the next answer is, well, he shouldn’t have stolen it. It’s that kind of thinking we have to change. We have to help people. Tyler needed help. And I’m not absolving myself of anything. You’ll never get me to feel less guilty than I am.”

Back at their house in Irvine, the Hilinskis rewatch the videos from Tyler’s memorial service. They’re all wiping away tears when the footage ends. Ryan is quick with a smile and reassurance. He throws his arm around his dad. “Does that mean we get to throw the old pigskin around?” he asks.

His father nods, and the family gathers its gear and heads outside, into the sun. They stroll over to a nearby park. Mark dons gloves for the passes Ryan zips his way. Kym walks Navy Blue across the field, far away from the throwing session. It’s still football, still hard for her to watch. “How in the world am I going to get through next year and then four more years and not worry every single time my son gets hit or taken down?” she says. “Ryan doesn’t need to see me cry or worry or be sick to my stomach. So I have to do what most moms do and just hide what I feel.”

She does just that on this cloudless afternoon as Ryan slings spirals to his dad. It’s one perfect throw after another. Mark hardly has to move. “Still got it,” Ryan deadpans as Mark shakes the sting out of his hands.

The session ends. The Hilinskis walk back toward the house, the football nestled under Ryan’s right arm. It feels like a happy moment, a return to normal, but it masks the darker feelings they each have. Sometimes Kym feels guilty just for smiling, or like a fraud for sending thank you notes to all the well-wishers, wondering just what she should be thankful for. Just walking past football lockers, especially those with the number 3 above them, reduces Mark to tears. Kelly, who was planning to live with Tyler after both finished school, must think about who he’ll room with now. Ryan wonders whom he’ll call when he needs advice.

Robert Beck

The future remains as uncertain as it felt in January, but the Hilinskis know they have to do more, do better, bolstering the purpose and meaning in Tyler’s death by holding up his life and why it mattered. And so they head into their living room, passing their favorite picture in the entryway, ignoring the envelope they refuse to open on the kitchen table. They may never open it, Kym says. Or they will, Mark says, and then they’ll read it once and burn it.

The last four months showed them that what’s in the report doesn’t matter. It never did. There’s no simple reason, no obvious why, nothing that will give the Hilinskis what they want—a second chance at helping Tyler. Instead, Ryan again throws an arm around his father’s shoulder and Mark wraps Ryan up, holds him tightly and whispers in his ear, “I’m sorry.” It’s another step into an uncertain future, and, for now, for as long as it takes, that will have to do.

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Watch Losing Tyler on SI TV. Our latest documentary chronicles the Hilinski family’s search for answers in the aftermath of tragedy. ​

Special reporting by Mary Agnant and Alex Agnant.

Tyler Hilinski Suicide: Aftermath of Washington State QB's death | SI.com
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