RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - As a freshman, Ryan Fresco of Mills Godwin was one of the best cross country runners in the Colonial District, setting up high expectations for his 2012 season. Last spring, Ryan chose to give lacrosse a try, but on February 14 of this year, everything changed.
Ryan and five other students were moving a lacrosse goal, when the goal was accidentally dropped on his head, giving him a concussion and a traumatic brain injury. He needed seven staples in his head to close the wound, but the biggest symptoms came in the long term.
The 15-year old suffered long term headaches, dizziness and fatigue. He had trouble focusing and saw some personality change. Ryan had trouble walking up steps and because of the injury to his brain, doctors recommended that he stop all cognitive, social and physical activities.
He missed nine weeks of school in an effort to recover, spending most days either watching TV or sitting on his front step with the family dog as company. When he finally returned to school, he still had trouble focusing, and began with half-days, working his way up to a full week by the end of the school year. During the summer, Ryan spent the time doing intense physical and occupational therapy to help him re-learn basic life skills.
In mid-August, after continued improvement was seen in Ryan's condition, he was cleared to resume his training and return to the cross country team. Running caused dizziness at first, but he steadily improved, and in October, after missing nearly nine months of runner, Ryan crossed the finish line in 12th place at the Colonial District meet, good enough for All-District honors.
Ryan's coach, Jon Lauder, says that he has the potential to be All-Region and All-State before his high school career is over. Ryan was told by doctors that he could play contact sports, but the decision will be up to him and his parents. They are not sure if he'll return to lacrosse in the spring or compete on the outdoor track and field team.