NEW GLASGOW – Brookfield’s Rowan Sears is the kind of guy who showed up to the rink each day with a smile and left with a smile, says Weeks Major Midget coach Kyle MacLennan.
“You’re not going to find a better guy. I haven’t seen him have a bad day at the rink.”
But Sears’ career as a hockey player may now be over after a hit to the head caused him to have his second major concussion as a midget player. He had two others prior to joining the team.
In an emotional public post on Facebook, which went viral, his mother Jill Sears shared her frustration, saying although her son has played hockey since he was three years old and would love to continue, the risk of another head injury just isn’t worth it.
“Checking from behind has been addressed over the years, but hits to the head have got to stop,” she wrote. “Hits to the head have got to face stiffer player penalty. Along with the support of the Weeks Major Midget Hockey Club, we are bringing Rowan’s story to the attention of HNS. It won’t change what has happened to Rowan, but it may prevent cumulative concussions from hits to the head from happening to someone else’s son or daughter.”
MacLennan said the hit Sears sustained was in the first period of a recent game in Cape Breton. Because it’s so late in the season it will take Sears out of the lineup for the rest of the year and it may well prevent him from playing with the Yarmouth Mariners junior A team next year like he had hoped.
“I feel bad for the player and I feel bad for his family,” MacLennan said. “At the end of the day these are young kids. You don’t want to see anybody injured.”
MacLennan said the Sears family was in the stands when he suffered the injury and was able to take him to the hospital right away.
He believes the issues of concussions are important and action has to be taken moving forward.
“I think there for sure needs to be something to done to minimize these hits,” he said.
From a team perspective, coaches and players need to set a precedent on what’s acceptable and teach players how to avoid putting themselves in vulnerable situations and when they might need to ease up on an opposing player who is in a vulnerable situation. Officials also need to be consistent in their enforcement of hits.
“You’re not going to eliminate everything, but you are looking to reduce the ones that could be avoided,” he said.
Rowan is also an outstanding softball player. Last summer he was named to the Canadian junior men’s fastpitch team that will compete at the 2018 world championship in July in Prince Albert, Sask.