Thirteen-year-old Teddy felt good on game day. A goalie on his Looneys Lacrosse team, he was in the zone, ready to lead his team toward a win. He could not have known that he was about to suffer a freak accident that would change his outlook on sports and player safety forever.
Teddy was in the cage and the game, as his father, Edward, describes, was rough. As an opposing player took a shot at the goal, Teddy jumped to block it. Instead, the ball sailed past his stick and hit him square in the chest.
At first, everything seemed normal. It wasn’t until Teddy scooped up the ball and cleared it to his teammate that things began to change rapidly. He suddenly got tunnel vision, and that’s the last thing Teddy remembers before he fell unconscious.
It turns out that when the ball struck Teddy, it sent him into what is sometimes called commotio cordis — a change in heartbeat that causes it to enter arrythmia. The injury is rare and most commonly seen in athletes who, like Teddy, are hit in exactly the wrong spot on their torso, at a very specific moment of their heartbeat.
Edward remembers watching from the stands as this all played out. One second, his son saved and cleared the ball, and the next, he collapsed in the goal and went still. In the stands that day were an emergency medical technician and a doctor, and both rushed onto the field to help. The situation became dire when they couldn’t find a heartbeat.
Miraculously, after several tense minutes, Edward was informed that Teddy had a pulse. A moment later, Teddy was breathing, and the next thing everyone knew, he woke up. While in an ambulance on his way to the local hospital, he was alert, and he was even able to walk on his own into the hospital. After blood tests showed that his level of troponin — a protein released into the bloodstream after a significant heart event — were akin to that of a recent heart attack, care practitioners told Edward that Teddy would need to be transferred to a children’s hospital for more observation and testing.
At Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, Teddy was fitted for a heart monitor, which he wore for 24 hours. Pediatric cardiologist William Ravekes analyzed his heart rate and bloodwork and, thankfully, confirmed there were no residual effects from his accident.
Teddy’s goal then turned to preventing this kind of incident from happening again. The miracle of his survival wasn’t lost on Teddy, but that didn’t stop him from wanting to get back out on the lacrosse field. He was fitted for a personalized protective chest plate and, despite his fears, he got back in the goal.
Today, Teddy is 15 years old. He still plays lacrosse and has become a young advocate for player safety and protective gear. The kind of injury he had is rare but can happen to anyone, and Teddy is doing his part to help ensure that others have access to the same equipment he has and the same care he received. He promotes protective sports gear through social media and has designed wristbands that read “HeartStrong” on one side and “Looney’s2025” on the other. All proceeds go to the pediatric cardiology division of Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.
When asked about his passion for this cause, Teddy explains: “People that have miracles happen to them have a purpose in life. They need that second chance. When you give to Johns Hopkins, that goes to giving other kids a better life.”