Michael McCall Shares His Concussion Story

1Michael McCall shared his concussion story with the middle school students at St. John the Baptist School in Kenmore to promote sports safety.  McCall sustained a severe concussion in August 2012 during a scrimmage football game the week before beginning his junior year of high school.  Michael is an alum of St. John the Baptist School (Class of 2010) and recently graduated from Canisius High School (Class of 2014).

In the aftermath of this traumatic head injury, McCall began a fourteen month recovery to restore his health, working with a team of doctors including Dr. McVige of Dent Neurology and Dr. Leddy of UBMD Orthopedics and Sports Medicine (who was awarded a $1 million grant by the NFL to study the affects of such injuries and the recovery process).

McCall is a gifted learner in addition to being a talented athlete standing at 6’5” and 260 lbs.  There was interest from prestigious colleges for him to play college ball as a scholar-athlete.  The injury he sustained ended his ability to play any contact sports and greatly impacted his future plans.  He suffered many overt symptoms, including blurry vision, crippling headaches, and so on.  Upon explaining the effects of his injuries, middle school student Grace Martone questioned whether it was more challenging to not be able to play football or to not be able to read, both of which he experienced in the aftermath.  He responded, “Truthfully, I’d have to say it depended when you asked me.  Initially in October and November, it was definitely football.  It killed me to not be able to play along my teammates, my Canisius brothers.  And then at other times as the months went on and I was getting back to school, the reading and those things upset me more.  Both were very hard to overcome.”  With the intense rehab throughout his junior year to regain his cognitive skills, McCall eventually return to school after more than six months.

McCall has demonstrated tremendous tenacity in regaining his cognitive skills and adjusting to his inability to play contact sports, and he has gained insights as to how this has furthered his character and outlook on life and his future.  When sixth grader Jack Neinhaus asked Michael whether he ever felt like, “Why is this happening to me?,” McCall responded “Absolutely!  There were definitely those hopeless moments.  But I am grateful for my parents and others who helped me to accept the things I could not change and to resolve to work for the things I could.  My mother was ‘my rock’ during my recovery who constantly reminded me I had a choice to view myself as a victim, or face this thing head on”  He credits his faith in God, the love of his family, and the support of the Canisius High School community as essential components to his recovery process.

Despite the accident, the McCall’s indicate they would not discourage students from playing sports.  Peggy McCall, Michael’s mother, states, “I’m often asked whether I would let my kid play football knowing what I now know.  You know, if my other son was coming up—and they wanted to play football—I would have to let them.  You have to live!”  

McCall will attend Amherst College in Massachusetts in September 2014; he was also accepted into Notre Dame University, amongst others.
Michael and his mother were interviewed by WBFO 88.7-FM News Director Eileen Buckley while at St. John’s.  Click here for audio link: