Meet Andrew White, a doctoral student in the School of Kinesiology. He was recently awarded a grant from the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) for his work which involves analyzing strategies aimed at reducing injury rate in youth football. Andrew completed his undergraduate studies at Ohio Wesleyan University and went on to complete a master’s degree in clinical neuropsychology. He currently studies in the Sports Medicine Psychology Lab under his adviser, Professor Diane Wiese-Bjornstal.
When asked what inspired him to focus on youth sports, Andrew listed personal experience and safety as motivators. His personal beliefs are that
“youth sports are about more than just a game, since there are many life skills that can be learned in these activities. Concussions and other injuries can take away from the youth sports learning experience and often prevent participants from being more active in the future.”
Andrew’s advice to coaches would be to monitor players and not to push them into competition before they are fully recovered. “If there are any signs of a concussion, a player should take a break in order to reassess the situation and get checked for any further signs or symptoms.” His research aims to inform on the causes and effects of concussions to keep kids and coaches practicing safe sportsmanship and continuing to make the experience of youth sports a positive one.
Through his research, Andrew hopes that youth sports professionals will consider a safer and more cautious approach to recognizing and acknowledging concussion symptoms. His hopes are not to alter the way that these injuries are treated or diagnosed, but to change the way they are thought about in a youth sports setting. He is implementing a rule change that is designed to reduce the risk of injury and unsportsmanlike behavior in youth sports activities. This could play a major role in preventing second impact syndrome.
“If even a mild concussion is not recognized and a participant continues to play, a second impact could do more damage and result in a higher risk for a more serious traumatic brain injury,” he said.
Andrew’s suggestion for a best practice would be to keep all participants and coaching staff informed about recognizing concussion symptoms, preventing behaviors that cause concussions, and maintaining good sportsmanship. In his opinion, “Youth sports should not always be about winning, it should focus more on having fun and making memories and great experiences for everyone.”
At the end of his time at the University of Minnesota, Andrew hopes to find a teaching position at a small liberal arts college similar to his alma mater, Ohio Wesleyan. During his time in the Twin Cities, Andrew has been taking full advantage of the wonderful outdoor parks and trails that Minneapolis has to offer. He plays golf, basketball, and likes to spend time outdoors. In his free time, he enjoys hiking and camping with his wife and two dogs.