The Hit That Ended Briana Scurry's Soccer Career

"I knew I was in trouble ... I didn't know how much trouble," says retired soccer star Briana Scurry about the hit to the head that ultimately ended her soccer career.

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[Briana Scurry] On April 25, 2010 I was playing in the goal with the Washington Freedom— that was my team—we were playing against the Philadelphia Independence. And I came out for a low ball shot from my left side. So I came out like this and I was a little bit down to the ground. The Philadelphia forward came running in from my right to try to nick the ball—get in front of it— maybe get the pass and shoot. Well, we both came through at the same time—so I'm coming through like this— and she came from my right hand side and whacked me right in the side of my head with her knee, and the two of us literally fell over and—in a bundle. Only reason I know that is because that's what I have been told—what happened. I'm pretty sure—I remember the shot. I don't remember the hit, and I don't remember bundling over. What I remember is the shot coming, and I remember being on the ground— mixed in between her and I, and the ball being in my arms. So I got up—referee said, "Play on—keep—play on." No foul was called—nothing happened, no whistle. I got up, I distributed the ball. And right then—that changed my entire life—that hit. Everybody's in the—in front of me, all the numbers and the names on the back of the jerseys started to get foggy. I felt off-balance—I started to feel a little bit ill. I—I couldn't see things properly, and I was off—like, I kept veering to my left. And I—and I knew that I was in trouble— but I didn't know how much trouble—but it continuously got worse. And so that was 35 minutes into the game— at halftime, I went over to the bench— and I was literally walking sideways to the left. And the trainer came out and met me, and she was like, "Are you okay?" And I said, "No—not okay." And I haven't played since. The trainer came and got me, and it was halftime— and I recall distinctively her and I walking literally arm-in-arm, because I kept—I kept walking to the left. And I had my head down, and then she was like, "Bri, are you okay?" I said, "No, I don't feel right." She was like, "Do you know where you are?" I said, "I'm in a game," and I knew I was in a game because of what I was dressed in. I didn't know what day it was— I knew where I was, I knew I was in Philly. So she asked me these couple of questions as we're going into the locker room, and then she sat me down on the locker room bench, and—and told me three words, and said, "I'm going to ask you about these three words in a minute." So I just sat there and waited. She went and attended to a few—a few things with the other players, came back, and asked me what the—what the words are. No idea—not even—I don't even think I remembered the first one, which, normally, you would want to at least remember one of them. But I couldn't remember any of them. And she had me stand up, and I just kept tipping. And I had—my athletic ability was— is one of the biggest assets I have. And so when my balance is off like that, that is a big deal for me because balance is something that is—is a big asset of mine as a goalkeeper, so that tipping over was very—very concerning for her. She said, "You're out of the game," she's like, "Sit down, I'll go get the Philly doctor—have them look at you." So I waited until halftime was over—the team went out— the trainer came and got me, we went out to the bench— onto the other side of the bench, to the Philly side, where their—where their doctor could have a look. And she said, "Where are you? Do you know what happened?" I said, "I'm in Philly, and I got hit, but I don't know anything else." She's like, "Just wait—I'm going to come back in a minute." I'm assuming the whole "just wait" was just to see if things got worse and then maybe to decide if they were going to take me to the hospital, or something like that. So she said, "I think maybe if you get worse, I might have to take you to the hospital." And it turned out that I didn't get much worse, but I was already pretty bad. And we just decided that I would go to the hospital when I'd get back to DC. Because that was a road game, and that was the next day.
Posted on BrainLine January 22, 2014.

Produced by Christian Lindstrom, Justin Rhodes, and Victoria Tilney McDonough, BrainLine.

About the author: Briana Scurry

Briana Scurry is widely thought of as one of the world’s best female soccer goalkeepers. After being named starting goalkeeper for the United States women’s national soccer team in 1994, she helped lead the team in two Olympic gold medals (1996 and 2004), a World Cup  championship (1999), and she had 173 international appearances — a record among female soccer players.

Briana Scurry