While growing up, my dream was to play collegiate softball. Unfortunately, that dream changed due to a serious injury my sophomore year of high school. I went from playing softball 20 hours a week to being told that I was no longer able to play competitively. My identity changed in an instance, however I knew I was lucky to be alive. In the heart screening world, I find myself so focused on finding SAVES that I often overlook the emotional journey students and their families go through after facing a medical diagnosis.
This past month the Cody Stephens Foundation Staff had the pleasure of hearing from Christine Pinalto, co-founder of Sidelines USA. Christine is an inspiring woman who has dedicated her life to serving the community of permanently sidelined athletes through resources, connections, and new pursuits. Christine’s son, Cade, became permanently sidelined due to a hidden heart defect. Cade is working to better the lives of fellow sidelined athletes, by assisting them to redefine their satisfaction and embrace their new reality in a meaningful way.
During Christine’s presentation, she touched heavily upon what happens when a student-athlete receives the devastating news that their athletic dream is cut short. There can be a sense of disbelief, emptiness, confusion, and grief for both the athlete and his/her parents. Athletes who are permanently sidelined can feel like a part of them has died. Student-athletes need to know there is a meaningful way forward following career-ending injury, health condition, or repeat concussions.
Sidelined USA helps these young people make the shift and harness their athletic mindset to dream new dreams and conquer new challenges. They are starting a national conversation about the psychological impact of career-ending injuries/health conditions and leading a movement to better serve, resource, and inspire permanently sidelined athletes and their families.
This organization serves as a wonderful therapeutic support group for a population that would otherwise feel alone and helpless in this experience. If you know of any athletes who have been sidelined, please connect them with Christine.
-Alahna Kessler, Heart Screening Director for Central and South Texas