Making A Recovery

Quarterback Recovering From Concussion


Makanani Grace

After being released from the hospital, senior Loa Grace returns to school for the first time. After the concussion, Grace was very sensitive to light and sound, so he wasn’t allowed to use his phone or laptop. “It’s been a learning experience that I should be more grateful for things that I take for granted,” said Grace.

Hailey Milliken

Football games under Friday night lights are usually a unifying and celebrated activity for students and athletes alike. But at an away game on Oct. 12 against Park Hill High School, quarterback and senior Loa Grace faced a tackle that left him unconscious, and he was taken to Children’s Mercy Hospital by ambulance immediately after. 

“Everything started actually two plays before the play that took me out. I was hit so hard that my helmet flew off my head, and I was in a daze. I couldn’t even run in a straight line off the field.  My teammates even said that they were unsure of where I was mentally and tried to help me out,” said Grace.

He said he ran back in and attempted to jump over a defender from the opposing team when he was forcefully knocked headfirst onto the field. 

“The hit against the ground rendered me unconscious as soon as my face mask made contact. I quickly woke up to see a lot of people surrounding me before putting me into the ambulance. As soon as they closed the doors and started driving, I was ruled unresponsive, and I think that freaked a lot of people out,” said Grace.

While at the hospital, it was determined that he had developed a concussion during the game.

“Concussions in highschool football have always been around, but we are continuously becoming more educated about them,” said athletic trainer Alena Nelson.

Many are unaware of the signs of a possible concussion, and this could lead to a more dangerous situation.

“Some common signs that we can associate with a concussion are headaches, nausea, loss of balance, sensitivity to noise and memory problems,” said Nelson.

Grace said he woke up the next morning with very few memories. He felt a constant pounding in his head and was faced with a room full of relatives that he could not recognize.

“It was like I got a reset button. I knew I was missing information that was supposed to be there, and as soon as I woke up, it was a room full of drama. Family members came up to me, and I was just like, ‘I don’t know who you are,’” said Grace. 

Memories were gradually regained from his relatives reminding him of what position he played, what number he was, and what happened after he left the field. His treatment in the hospital left him in a bed for 72 hours without being able to walk or use any electronics for the time.

“Rest is best. It’s like, if someone pulled a hamstring, we wouldn’t want that person using that hamstring. We apply the same concept to the brain. It’s good to take some screen time and a bit of schooling away if needed,” said Nelson.

While recovering in the hospital, Grace said he felt his appreciation for life before the injury increase every day.

“In the hospital, I definitely learned to never take anything for granted. Having your memory and ability to walk taken away from you opens up your eyes,” said Grace. “Just seeing the amount of effort it takes to hold a conversation made me realize things could be a lot worse for me.”


Moving forward from the incident, Grace said he wants to take things slow and at his own pace from now on. He wants to go out and finish what he’s started, but also keep his health in check at the same time. He wants other athletes to learn from his experience for the future as well.

“If you notice something is wrong with a fellow teammate, the best thing to do is to tell that person, ‘Hey you should sit out,’ instead of letting them go out there and make things worse like I did. Even though I feel like my athletic season has taken a bit of a downfall, I’m holding out, and I’m ready to stay Staley strong,” said Grace. 

We attempted to interview head football coach Phil Lite, but due to privacy rules, he was unable to participate.

Photo by Grace Duddy.
Makanani Grace
At Children’s Mercy Hospital, starting quarterback senior Loa Grace receives a surprise visit Oct. 13 by teammates including his cousin junior Kekoa Grace, senior Shannon Stewart, senior Jake Wilson, junior Dawson Parks, junior Noah Allowed, junior Nick Wright, senior Dalton Nugent, senior Jaden Moss, junior Ramon Shelton and senior Quinten Arello. Grace suffered severe memory loss and failed to remember names after his concussion in the football game against Park Hill High School Oct. 12. “He is our brother, and we were all worried about him,” said Parks, current varsity starting quarterback. “We all feel bad about what happened and wish nothing but the best for him.”