Senior defensemen Stefanie McKeough will not take the ice for the Badgers this season and it would seem her entire future hockey career is in doubt due to complications stemming from concussions she received during the '11-'12 season.
McKeough, one of the best players to ever wear a sweater for the women's pogram, was also in the Canadian national program and was projected to be an Olympic-level talent.
According to this article from Andy Baggot from this summer, the first concussion occurred on January 7, 2012 at Minnesota and McKeough missed seven games. She then suffered a second concussion on March 2, 2012 against Minnesota-Duluth. She sat just one game after the second concussion - she passed all the protocol and was allowed to play in the national semi-final and championship games that year.
In the following months, she experienced migraines, vertigo, ringing in her ears and sensitivity to noise. She took a medical redshirt last year and has not experienced a significant enough improvement in those ailments to consider stepping back on the ice this season.
Baggot said she struggled to get through her class load and had to pull back. An update to her story this week said she is focused on completing the 21 credits she needs to graduate. She's also focused on her health.
It's clear that while McKeough would love to get back out on the ice, she knows that her health for the rest of her life is the most important thing to focus on. It hasn't been ruled that she'll never play again, but as we head into a second season without her, one has to imagine the Badgers will be writing their plans without her in them from here on out. She is rightly focusing on getting better, getting her degree and setting herself up for life after hockey.
It's just another in the long list of concussion stories - this in a sport without checking. McKeough was on the fast track to becoming one of the biggest names in women's hockey and two freak plays have left her a self-described recluse struggling to complete a degree.
While the update to the story has McKeough saying she's made progress, this quote is very, very telling:
"I was always hoping best-case scenario," she said, "but I can’t predict how I’m going to feel in six hours, so I don’t know how I’m going to feel in six weeks or six months."