Hello! Welcome to episode 12 of Lacrosse All Stars’ podcast — Outside the Eight with Annie Cook. This podcast focuses on women’s lacrosse while sharing stories and experiences of current and former players and coaches. Outside the Eight will grow the game, help others know the game and share stories that go beyond the field.
We are back! Here we have episode 12 of Outside the Eight with the Resilient Annie Cook.
Annie is from Towson, Maryland, played lacrosse at McDonogh High School, and went on to be on of the first class of recruits to play at Campbell University. Annie reached out to me wanting to share her story of experiencing a career ending head injury after having too many concussions on the field.
Concussions in lacrosse are not uncommon, I had two minor ones in my playing career, and with the nature of the sport, they are at times unpreventable. At this point girls and women’s lacrosse rules only require the eye wear goggles, although there is a push toward more helmet based headgear that could help with reducing the number of concussions players experience. Annie describes the journey she went through dealing with chronic symptoms, the decision to no longer compete, and how she still managed to graduate on time and be a part of the team.
Annie managed the adversity she faced and came to terms with no longer competing on the field. Her story is inspiring and her resilience has led her to live life fully. Since college Annie made a big move to the West Coast, and fell completely in love with California. She’s now coaching youth lacrosse in Santa Monica, instilling a passion for the game in her girls and reminding them have confidence and play every game like it’s their last.
We recorded this episode on a Sunday afternoon, and earlier that day she had completed the Malibu half marathon (before I had even woken up!). She continues to challenge herself athletically and growing the game in the ways she can. I applaud her hustle, working many jobs and coaching various teams, while still chasing west coast sunsets almost every night.
Injuries are often part of the game, they are the risk, and we have to deal with their unpredictable nature. There are ways coaches and conditioning can help prevent injuries on the field, but a poorly timed shot, or a bad pass can’t keep that rock hard rubber ball from wreaking havoc on even the most in shape and elite athletes. The decision to no longer play due to too many concussions is a tough one, but ultimately the most important for an athlete’s long term health. We can all be more educated on concussion prevention and management, I’ve linked a few resources below that I mention in the “fact check” portion of the episode.
If there’s one message to take from my conversation with Annie, it’s this: you might have to make a tough decision to quit competing because it’s the overall right choice for your long term health; refocusing on what’s most important–which in college is getting that degree, then maintaining the relationships you’ve built– and taking the entire experience to propel you forward in life. There are so many ways to use that difficult chapter you overcame as fuel to live life fully and proudly.
Thanks for listening to my episode with Annie, if you have a story about an injury you had to overcome, let us know! Everyone’s lacrosse journey is different but is also relatable, and injuries are often a part of the game.
Helpful Resources and References:
If you haven’t yet, be sure to listen to the eleven other available episodes on Soundcloud. You can find a breakdown of all of them here (please add link to latest recap post) They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Podbean and Pocketcast as well under Lacrosse Podcasts by Lacrosse All Stars. Please feel free to RATE, REVIEW, and SUBSCRIBE!
BONUS: Read Outside the Eight Podcast host Cassie Brunelle’s backstory for why she created the podcast (and what it’s taught her) here.