Talking to Bethany Balcer About Concussion Safety
Apr 11, 2022
Bethany Balcer, NWSL forward for the OL Reign and multiple award recipient, is a champion in the making. A graduate of Spring Arbor University, she was a 2x NAIA national champion, the school’s top scorer, and a 4x 1st-team All-American player. She also has 18 club goals and one international goal with the USWNT.
Aside from her work on the pitch, she has become an advocate for concussion safety in soccer. As a young player growing up, her parents made it their prerogative to have her wear a concussion headband for her protection.
As a brand ambassador for Storelli, Bethany wants to spread awareness about concussion safety and the virtues of wearing soccer protective gear for the head. In this post, we’ll examine some insights from Bethany in a recent interview she had with Storelli.
Why She Started Wearing a Concussion Headband
Bethany, now 25, has worn headgear for about ten years. “I started wearing it because my parents forced me to.” Of course, it wasn’t random- her parents wanted her to wear this soccer protective gear for her safety.
But eventually, she felt motivated to wear soccer protective gear for her head because she felt more confident heading the ball. Knowing that she had a lower risk of head injuries when wearing it was and is a reason she still wears it.
Why She Chose Storelli’s Concussion Headband
Of course, Balcer didn’t start off wearing our concussion headband. The shift was recent, but she sums up her decision to partner with us.
“Their headgear is incredibly comfortable to wear, and I feel like it gives me the kind of confidence I need to go out and perform to the best of my ability.”
That’s more than a compliment - it’s a testament to our focus on making a product that ticks off all boxes. In other words, it doesn’t just protect the head, but it feels cozy and gives you a mental edge on the pitch.
For a player like Bethany, who plays in various attacking positions, she needs protection WITHOUT distraction.
Balcer also admits that our mission was a reason for making the switch.
“I think Storelli has a very good mission of protecting players against concussions.”
That is important because our mission has always been about player safety. Research on concussions in soccer has only come to light in the last 10-15 years, and it’s still lacking. Even worse, little has been done to protect players.
Soccer concussion headbands have been available since the early 2000s, but our headguard was among the first to be rigorously tested and safety-certified.
For Bethany, these accolades reassure her that every time she steps on the pitch, she can perform at her best with minimal concerns about injury.
Her Views on Whether Enough is Being Done About Concussion Safety
When it comes to the safety of other players, Bethany has some interesting perspectives. She thinks leagues should encourage protection.
“I mean, we are seeing in younger ages that they are no longer allowed to head it,” she acknowledges. But she also says, “I don’t think that’s the answer because they are going to have to do it one day, so we might as well prepare them.”
She’s likely referring to the ban on headers in children under 12. Bethany believes that coaches and leagues should focus more on safe header techniques rather than eliminating them from certain age groups. That would likely mean also wearing a soccer concussion headband while playing.
But she doesn’t think the leagues and coaches are solely responsible for minimal headgear use.
“My first initial thought is that it is just not the cool thing to do,” she said when we asked why she thinks more players don’t wear a soccer concussion headband. “I don’t think they see the benefits of protecting from concussions.”
The “coolness” factor may simply be the result of a generational gap. Young players hearing safety advice from parents may roll their eyes, but seeing more of their idols wear it could change things.
For example, even now that Bethany is in her mid-20s, she still wears a concussion headband. She wears it because it helps her play, as she says, “against tall, aggressive, physical players on the field” and gives her a “confidence boost.” It’s more than a parent’s recommendation to her - it’s a piece of protective gear that’s just as valuable as her shin guards. Perhaps, young players who see Bethany as a role model will take notes and wear soccer protective gear up top as well.
Bethany’s Tips for Upcoming Players & Going Pro
When we asked Bethany what tips she has for upcoming players, she said, “[mind] the work you do off the field when nobody is watching.” That’s advice we echo. She says mental and physical preparation makes all the difference. And our favorite quote from her is: “If you are trying to beat out who you were yesterday, that will allow you to grow.”
We’ve discussed how players can improve virtually every aspect of the game, including technical skills, tactical ability, recovery, and even nutrition. We agree with Bethany that preparing from all angles will make you a better player. And constantly trying to outdo yourself is the key to success. Despite being a pro, she still sees herself as an underdog. It’s that kind of humility that breeds long-term success.
Little Unknowns About Bethany Balcer
Of course, Bethany has a life off the pitch, too - she happens to be a woman of multiple talents. When we asked her about her nicknames, she revealed one - “Betty Wap.” That was her artist name when she rapped in college and wrote raps for others.
Aside from her mic skills, she takes a lighthearted approach to life and admits that she never treated soccer like a job. “I never got burned out,” she says, “it was always fun.” That in itself is a lesson for upcoming players to remember not to lose joy trying to prove themselves all the time. But she’s still committed to being the best player she can be, staying true to her “underdog” mindset to remain hungry and humble.
Check out our Storelli blog for insights on how to reduce soccer concussion risks and other injuries.