Behind the Story: Cal Poly Concussions

Our story was initially about the vague word “concussions” and we focused it to aim at college athletes who don’t end up going pro. Most college athletes in this category get multiple concussions and are at serious risk for brain damage, but do not get any of the financial compensation pros do.

We ended up interviewing a series Cal Poly athletes who have had multiple concussions and realized that we felt much more touched by their stories than we had first expected.

I am working on the Public Relations aspect of this story, and after getting in contact with multiple students in the Cal Poly athletic program I was amazed by how many of them were willing to interview about this subject with my team. Moreover, how many of them had additional resources they were willing to give us in order to get into contact with!

We reached out to students involved in Cal Poly Football and Cal Poly Volleyball as well as a professor in the Psychology department to get more insight on the medical view of concussions.

“[Concussions] was definitely something that was of concern when I went in there with the neurologist after my last one… But without football I wouldn’t be here.” – Noah Letuligasenoa, former Cal Poly football player

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Cal Poly student Noah Letuligasenoa explains to the members of our group that he has gotten 6-7 concussions from playing football.

My team and I were surprisingly touched by Noah’s story as well as the story of Anna, another student we interviewed about her involvement in athletics at Cal Poly and her experience with concussions.

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Cal Poly volleyball player for 4 years, Anna Gorman, gets comfortable with her interviewee Natsuki Nishikawa.

Hearing the touching stories of these students in great detail didn’t necessarily change our story’s topic, but it did change the view that we had on concussions before this project. Our story now has much more emotional context to it than we had ever expected, when we initially were only thinking about the construction side of the sorry.

“Thinglink is difficult to save things on and it’s frustrating using a new platform with little guidance. Therefore multimedia was challenging for this story, but in the end I succeeded in completing the second component for the project. ” – Hannah Landry, multimedia

“At first it was hard finding student sources, but in the end I think it worked out well and Professor Laver gave us some really good information.” – Natsuki Nishikawa, broadcast

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Professor Gary Laver gets acquainted with his interviewee Ayrton Ostly in his office on Cal Poly’s campus.

Professor Gary Laver also gave us some information from the Cal Poly Psychology Department‘s point-of-view that opened our eyes to even more details that we were oblivious to before this project.

“It was interesting to interview a medical expert (psychology professor Dr. Gary Laver) and then interview an athlete right after. Laver was animated but also very concerned with the situation some athletes are in after having just two concussions. Natsuki and I interviewed Noah Letuligasenoa right after and he’d had seven in 11 years. Honestly, it was hard to maintain composure after he told us how many he’d had because I just wanted to shake my head from I learned from Dr. Laver. Between knowing the effects both Noah and Lauren will likely have to live with, this will be a story I will never forget writing. ” – Ayrton Ostly, print

Overall, this story really opened our eyes to the issue of concussions. It is one of those things you don’t necessarily think about past the surface-level… unless it happens to you.