Amanda M. Cain

Taking you beyond the stadium walls and into the community.

Tag: Exeter

Exeter athlete understands the harsh reality of dealing with a concussion

When Exeter High School senior Riley Haller began her freshman year of soccer, she had no inclination that she would only be eligible to play for half the season. A serious concussion, one of two that she has dealt with, ended her season early.

In late October, she found herself sidelined and unable to finish the season, along with a myriad of other side effects.

“The more serious one was my freshman year and I had to miss out on a lot of social events,” Haller said. “I fell very behind in school because I was out for three months.”

For those three months at home she was unable to read, watch television, use any electronic devices such as her phone, and she missed out on social events due to a sensitivity to light and sound.

Haller’s story is one that has become all too familiar in today’s society. Concussions among high school athletes have drawn more attention over the past few years in part due to the attention being brought to professional athletes who suffer from concussions and the difficulties that follow them.

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Infographic by Amanda Cain. Created at easel.ly. Information courtesy of www.headcasecompany.com

In 2011, Pennsylvania passed the Safety in Youth Sports Act, effective July 2012, documenting the requirements for schools, student athletes, and the Departments of Health and Education when dealing with concussions in interscholastic athletics.

Therese Knabb, school nurse at Exeter High School, has noticed a change in the way the faculty and staff has handled students who have concussions. Caring for students with concussions has become somewhat easier in that the teachers know what to look for when a student is in class and they know how to handle the situation as a result of this law.

“I think we do a lot more than most schools do because we have Audrey who was part of the whole concussion training in Berks County,” Knabb said, referring to Exeter’s athletic trainer, Audrey Dickman. “The teachers are really well-versed on concussions in our school.”

Looking back at her freshman year of soccer, Haller noted that if she could go back the only thing she would do differently would be to duck.

“Playing soccer there’s always that risk, especially in that sport, just because there’s so much contact. There’s always the chance you could get hit in the face with the ball or you could fall,” Haller said.

Now a senior, Haller has not played soccer for Exeter since her sophomore season. Although she says another injury was the main cause of her not playing, the concussion from freshman year played a part in ending her time on the soccer field.

“With the concussion and another injury I just couldn’t do it anymore,” she said.

After spending three months sitting in the nurse’s office at school all day and being forced to drop classes as a result of the concussion, she doesn’t seem to harbor any hard feelings about what she went through as a freshman.

Haller’s advice to fellow high school athletes is simple: “You just have to be aware that it can happen.”

Exeter High School spring sports off to strong start

Exeter Township Senior High School’s spring sports teams are a little over a month into their seasons and have come out strong.

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Infographic by Amanda Cain. Infographic created at www.easel.ly Data gathered from www.exetereagles.org

Looking to repeat the success of the previous season, the 2015 Berks County Champion girls’ lacrosse team has jumped out to a 5-0 start on the season.  With tough games still ahead against Twin Valley High School and Wilson High School, the ladies aim to make another run at a championship title.

“They have a very tough schedule,” Exeter athletic director Tom Legath said. “We are the defending Berks County Champion.”

Also looking to have repeat successful seasons are baseball and softball. The baseball team has started off the season with a 3-2 record including a win over tough rival Governor Mifflin High School.  After making the county semifinals last season, the team is looking to return to FirstEnergy Stadium to play for the county title. The softball team is currently sitting on a 5-0 record after wins over tough rivals Twin Valley and Governor Mifflin.

“Starting out 3-0 and having a lot of kids back, we’re really excited,” Legath said. “They made a great run last year in districts to the district semifinal. We knocked off the top seed.”

Exeter’s other spring sports teams have had successful starts to the season and continue to hold their own against some strong teams. Track and field currently holds a 2-0 record while the boys’ tennis team is sitting comfortably at 3-1.

After facing some tough losses, boys’ lacrosse and boys’ volleyball are looking to turn around their records of 3-4 and 2-3, respectively.

Exeter athletics is coming off of strong fall and winter sports seasons that included numerous county and district titles, and the Eagles continue to carry that success through the spring season.

“The level of success is raised,” Legath said. “I’m hoping we can get at least three, four, or five county championship teams this spring. I’m very excited and we’re off to a pretty good start so far.”

Spring sports officially begin at Exeter High School

On Monday, March 7, spring sports began at Exeter High School with the first day of official practice. Over the past few months, teams have been holding voluntary open gym workouts to begin preparing for the upcoming season.

As the season officially opened, many coaches wasted no time getting their teams out on to the playing field.

Practices began for multiple teams immediately following dismissal. Taking advantage of unseasonably high temperatures and clear skies the baseball, boys tennis, and track and field teams were able to hold practice outside.

With a turf field and all-weather track at Don Thomas Stadium, Exeter has the ability to have multiple teams practicing in the same place at the same time. While long-distance runners worked out on the track, sprinters conditioned on the turf and pole vaulters got in some early season practice vaults.

The boys’ tennis team headed over to an adjoining park to take to the courts and begin working towards a county title.

As spring seasons begin to take shape, two of Exeter’s nine teams are looking to continue the success they had during the 2015 season.

The baseball team is coming off of an exciting BCIAA semi-final appearance and looks to go one step further and make it to the finals. Girls’ lacrosse hopes to carry the success of their 2015 BCIAA Championship run into the 2016 season.

Coming off a successful fall season with long runs by the football team, field hockey team, and girls’ tennis team and two state medalists in the winter wrestling season, the Eagles hope to see continued success for the athletic program with their spring sports teams.

Play like the Pros

From the first time he picks up a baseball, every young boy dreams of playing professional baseball. For some, the dream fades early as they discover other interests. Others carry this dream as far as high school and college.

In Berks County, PA a select group of high school players get a taste of the professional life every year when the Reading Fightin’ Phils host the BCIAA High School Baseball semi-finals and finals at FirstEnergy Stadium. Four teams from local high schools are given the chance to play on the same field as the pros when they advance to the semifinals of the county playoffs. The two remaining teams then battle it out for the County Championship on the same field where the Fightins have previously battled for an Eastern League Championship.

“It’s a great experience cause the kids get to go watch professional baseball there and to have the opportunity to play on the same field the pros are playing on for them is a great experience,” said Justin Freese, the head baseball coach at Exeter High School.

A lone baseball lies in wait on the Exeter High School baseball field for the upcoming baseball season. (Photo: Amanda Cain)

A lone baseball lies in wait on the Exeter High School baseball field for the upcoming baseball season. (Photo: Amanda Cain)

For a high school team such as Exeter’s, the differences between the high school field and FirstEnergy Stadium are numerous. The distance from home plate to the left field foul pole is 307 feet at the home of the Eagles. In FirstEnergy Stadium, the left field foul pole stands 330 feet from home.

Talking about how the kids handle the difference in field size Freese said, “The second time we went we played in the second game at the stadium so we got there extra early so they could walk on the field and take notice that it’s all about the same it’s just a much nicer atmosphere than playing on a high school field.”

The size of the field is only one noticeable difference between the two ball fields. FirstEnergy has a capacity of 9,000 people. Exeter, like many of the local schools, has suitable viewing locations for roughly 60-70 people.

The list of differences could continue on and on to include the number of advertisements and the size of the scoreboard. To the players, the biggest difference and the one with the most impact is the experience.

Winning a county title is the goal of every high school team. Earning that title while playing at the home of the pros makes it a little more exciting. Playing in front of a larger crowd than usual, sitting in the larger dugouts, and getting the chance to use the professional clubhouses is all part of that experience.

“Last year was the first time we got to the stadium. The kids who are coming back now their goal is to get back there and play in the county final. It is some motivation for the players.”

© 2017 Amanda M. Cain

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