WEST BRIDGEWATER (CBS) — As the West Bridgewater Wildcats ran through some plays at practice Wednesday night, many 12-year-old minds wandered back to what happened during Sunday’s game.
“The refs told us to get off the field, and everybody was worried about him — why he wasn’t moving,” says teammate Joey Siltanen.
He’s talking about number 54, lineman Nathan Hogrell, lying motionless on the field after getting sandwiched between two Hanson players on a punt — possibly a helmet to helmet hit.
The youngster was taken by MedFlight to Children’s Hospital where the feeling in his legs finally returned, and doctors held him for 36 hours with spinal cord bruising and a concussion.
“We are very, very lucky that Nathan is okay,” says the boy’s father. But Jim Hogrell admits to moments of panic along the sidelines, where he’s an assistant coach for the team.
He says his son is done for this season, but not done with the sport — as long as doctors give the okay.
“He’ll go back on the field,” says Jim Hogrell. “To a 12-year-old kid football is his life. He loves football. How can I take that away from him?”
Ironically, Nathan’s injury came on a weekend filled with crushing, questionable hits in the National Football League, prompting big fines and pledges of future suspensions from the commissioner.
For the mother of at least one boy in the Old Colony Youth Football League, it all adds up to pulling the plug on her son’s young career next season.
“He doesn’t need to be bashing heads with other kids,” says Paula Bethoney. “I don’t want him to get hurt. I don’t want him to have a concussion. I like his brain just the way it is right now.”
Her son, Nathan’s teammate, isn’t thrilled with that.
“Whatever she says goes, I guess,” says Nick Bethoney, shaking his head with some disgust. “But it’s football. I mean, that’s why we have pads.”
Most other parents, though, were quick to point out that kids can get hurt at a whole host of things these days.
They point out that the league and team coaches take a bevy of common sense safety precautions, including anti-concussion helmets and EMT’s on the sidelines at every game.
“The risk you take in any sport is that your kid might get hurt,” says Kevin Noyes. “You just have to accept that. Hopefully he won’t. But you can’t lock him inside to play video games all day.”
As for young Nathan Hogrell, doctors’ orders have him flat on his back for at least a few days doing absolutely nothing.
“He’s going crazy,” says his Dad. “He can’t watch TV. They don’t want him talking much. He can’t even read a book. You’ve never seen a kid more anxious than him to do some homework right now.”