Trey Enloe's parents said the coach did not do enough to protect their son from severe brain injuries, adding that the teen suffered multiple concussions during a junior varsity football game last October in which La Jolla played Point Loma High School.
His parents said Enloe, now 18 and a senior, told his coach he was not feeling well following the first hit. William Berman, the family's attorney, claims the assistant coach sent him back on the field. "He was told to get back in there, to 'suck it up,' and get back in the field," said Berman.
According to Enloe's mother Jana, her son took one blow after another. By the third quarter, she said, Enloe's eyes were dilated, and he was talking out one side of his mouth; his father David reported that the teen had vomited on the sidelines. During the game, Enloe's teammates told him to see the trainer, who told his parents Enloe had sustained the worst concussion he had ever seen.
"When you start letting coaches inflict their personal desires to win at all costs, that is when we have problems," said Berman.
Berman said Steve Wachs, the assistant coach, was suspended for two games and has not come back to the team.
Concussion protocols have rippled down from the NFL to high school sports. More than 300,000 sport-related injures have been reported each year, and related findings have come under increased focus. In January of 2013, the National Institutes of Health released findings on late former San Diego Charger Junior Seau, whose autopsy showed similarities with those of people “with exposure to repetitive head injuries.”
Seau, 43, committed suicide in May of 2012. Similarly, former NFL player Dave Duerson shot himself in the chest in 2011, leaving a note asking that his brain be studied for trauma.
A spokesperson for the school district said the district is not able to comment on pending claims or lawsuits but has changed its concussion policies and requires all coaches to pass the California Interscholastic Federation concussion course. The federation commissioner says it is up to the district to enforce the rules but will investigate if there is a complaint.
The Enloes said despite state guidelines, schools and coaches need to do more to educate and train for concussions.
"I definitely think,” Jana Enloe said, “that more can be done on training, and definitely, if a child says 'I don't think I can go in,' don't put them back in the game.”
Meanwhile, she said she fears the injuries may have led to depression.
"'I just have to ask you,'” she said, “'have you ever thought about taking your own life?' And he said, 'Yes, mom I have.' That is the part I just, as a mom, I don't want my child to ever have that feeling.”
The Enloes said Trey will go through another round of testing in February, when his doctors will determine if he will suffer from the concussion for the rest of his life.