Football player sidelined by concussion gets Colts honor

Thomas Strole
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High school football players around the region are fueling up and suiting up for tonight's sectional games. But one player has to watch his team from the sidelines.

Thanks to Indiana's relatively new student-athlete concussion law, Thomas Strole is sitting out a crushing blow. But it's one that's leading to an exciting score at Sunday's Colts game.

"I watch football. I play football every single day," Strole said. "I hope to go to Oregon University and then get drafted to the Chicago Bears."

The 13-year-old has played the game for half his life and has taken tons of hits. But recently, it was two hits within four weeks that sidelined him.

"I watched him go down and stood across the field and just waited to see what would happen and when I saw him stand up and drop to the ground, I did sprint across the field," said Thomas' mother, Stephanie.

"You feel like you get sick, stomach, then dizziness. Just a weird feeling," Strole said.

Under Indiana's student-athlete concussion law, any athlete even suspected of suffering a head injury or concussion-like symptom will be immediately removed from the game or practice. They can't return to play until cleared by a doctor.

Thomas' case was severe.

"We sidelined him for the season, quite honestly, because he had two injuries in a short period of time. In a young athlete like that, we want to be conservative and not cause long-term problems," said Dr. Daniel Kraft, director of Riley Sports Medicine.

Thomas may be off the field, but he's not out of the game. In fact, he's headed to the Colts game Sunday as the "Riley Coin Toss Kid."

"I think anytime we can bring awareness that concussions need to be taken seriously, but you can recover and get back to sports, that's a good thing," Kraft said.

"It's kind of nervous. I don't like to be in front of millions of people, thousands of people. It's kind of nervous for me," Thomas said.

But he isn't nervous about keeping his head in the game. He's actually helping to coach his school's team.

His big trip to Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday will include the royal treatment. As a Riley Coin Toss Kid, he gets four tickets to the game, limousine transportation, a jersey, a hat and a disposable camera to capture all of those fun memories.