NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Chris Nowinski Speaks at NECC


On Oct. 21 in the Hartleb Technology Center, Christopher Nowinski, a former Harvard football player, pro wrestler, NFLPA advisor and author, spoke to about 100 people about the severity of concussions and head injuries.

Nowinski, author of the book “Head Games” and founder of the Concussion Foundation, handed out pamphlets and sheets on how to prevent head injuries. Different sheets were prepared for parents, coaches and athletes, filled with the actual definition of a concussion, symptoms of a concussion, and what to do in the event of a concussion.

Head injuries and concussions hit home with Nowinski because he suffered a severe concussion that put him out of sports forever.

Concussions in professional sports have been a hot-button topic for the past few years, more specifically in the NFL and the NHL. The fast, hard-hitting games put all players at risk of a career-ending injury. These concussions in the long term can also lead to death or suicide.

In 2012, longtime NFL linebacker Junior Seau succumbed to his long-term brain injury and took his own life, shooting himself in the chest. Seau suffered a type of chronic brain damage known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). This type of brain damage has been found in other deceased NFL players.

Nowinski now goes around the country speaking to different groups, talking about the importance of concussion education.

The “Team Up” program gives training sessions to educators and coaches, who can then teach the lessons locally.

“It became a concerning thing for me, which I found educational, because this year alone I’ve had 2 kids with concussions,” said Darren Stratton, the coach of the NECC basketball team. Stratton brought his whole team to the presentation so they could learn about the severity of head injuries as well.

“I think Chris and his department are doing an excellent job, presenting and making awareness about it,” Stratton said.

“Heads Up” is an extension of the Concussion Foundation specially made for youth athletes, coaches, and parents. It highlights that concussions can happen at any age and can affect you for the rest of your life if not treated properly.

Jack Roy, a coach in the Haverhill Junior Football League, was in the crowd and related the presentation to his youth football players.

“It is extremely important for coaches at all levels to understand what is at stake here, the kids’ safety and overall health. We, as coaches, are on the front lines and must take charge in educating the players and the parents. This is a serious issue that must be dealt with.”

Roy also enjoyed Nowinski’s speech.

“He did a great job. I wish we could have had another hour or two more to discuss his programs and the research. Who better to talk about this issue than someone with his experience?” Roy said.

Katherine Regus was critiquing Nowinski’s presentation for her Business Communications class and was impressed.

“I have to say that I really liked it, he was direct and he went straight to the point,” Regus said. “He engaged with the audience very well trying to ask questions related to situations that involved the athletes that were sitting there.”

Chris Nowinski’s presentation was the first of four STEM Series presentations at NECC.

To find out more on brain injuries and Nowinski, visit

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