143 : You CAN Recover From Post Concussion Syndrome, But You Can't Do It Alone w/ Aaron Rocha & Mike Santee

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Aaron Rocha is a retired lacrosse player who ended his career at Babson College.

Aaron Rocha is a retired lacrosse player who ended his career at Babson College.

In episode 143 I had the privilege of interviewing the founders of CAN Recover, Aaron Rocha and Mike Santee. CAN Recover was inspired by Aaron and Mike’s experience and their realization of a communal need for individuals suffering from post concussion syndrome. Both Aaron and Mike battled post-concussion syndrome for up to 2 years and were withheld from returning to the sports they love. Through their experiences, they realized that there is no effective support available for student-athletes like themselves. Seeing how much impact they had on each other’s recoveries by providing empathetic support, they immediately wanted to start helping others overcome the physical and emotional challenges of a prolonged concussion recovery.

Mike Santee is a retired hockey player who ended his career at the United States Military Academy.

Mike Santee is a retired hockey player who ended his career at the United States Military Academy.

Below you will find a list of topics we touch on throughout the episode:

  • How Mike and Aaron got connected through their struggles with PCS.

  • Mike and Aaron’s concussion histories.

  • Why both Mike and Aaron hid symptoms and tried to play through their injuries.

  • How the athlete identity might influence athletes to play injured.

  • How our definitions of toughness have evolved.

“Back in high school my definition of toughness was resilience through pain.” - Aaron Rocha

  • Team awards the reinforce dangerous definitions of toughness.

  • Treatment options that Aaron and Mike tried in their recoveries.

    • What worked and what didn’t.

  • The tendency to over-analyze while recovering from concussion.

  • The value in keeping a symptom journal to isolate variables.

  • Why having someone to talk and relate to is so important.

“You don’t feel like you are in control, you’re in the passenger seat of your own life” - Mike Santee

  • NHL examples on how we are making progress toward redefining toughness.

  • The tremendous support Mike had from his coaches at West Point.

  • The mental an emotional toll PCS had on them (loneliness and isolation) and thoughts of ending it all.

  • Should you rip the bandaid off or stay around your sport? Differing perspectives and why neither is right or wrong.

  • How losing a sport affects relationships.

  • Finding new outlets.


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Download Episode 143 : iTunes | Stitcher

137 : Bringing the Human Out of the Athlete & the Importance of Non-Competitive Outlets w/ Carley Horan

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Carley Horan is a former USC lacrosse player, Nutritionist and Coach. I first met Carley when I was working as a rehab aide in a physical therapy practice and she was receiving treatment for a back injury while she was back on the East Coast over break. I remember being asked to put her through some CrossFit-like workouts and it didn’t take long for me to notice that she was a machine. Some athletes just have an “it” factor to them and Carley was definitely one of those special athletes that are a coaches dream. She was definitely one of those players that would run through a brick wall for you if you asked her to. However, in the absence of non-competitive outlets, it is easy for driven and determined athletes like Carley to breakdown physically, mentally and emotionally. In this interview we dissect this athlete mentality and provide suggestions on finding a healthier balance with sport, social life, academics and other hobbies. Carley’s last season playing college lacrosse was in the spring of 2016, so she has had plenty of time to reflect on her athletic career. Carley recently earned her masters degree in nutrition and is working hard toward becoming a Register Dietitian, so we also explore how we can prevent injuries through nutrition.

Carley is currently teaching Yoga and Spin at Ride + Reflect in Morristown, NJ and also coaches lacrosse. Below you will find other topics we touch on throughout this interview:

  • How we can work towards preventing injury through nutrition.

  • The role stress plays in causing injuries.

  • Why having adequate calories is the most important way to prevent injuries through nutrition.

  • What happens to your body when you don’t have adequate calories.

  • How to prevent inflammation in your body with food.

  • What inflammation actually is.

  • The importance of the timing of your meals.

  • Why you need carbs as an athlete.

  • Why you should re-think the kind of peanut butter you are eating.

  • Why you should prioritize food over supplements.

  • The correlation between Vitamin D and bone health.

  • The benefits of blood panels in understanding your nutritional needs.

  • To eat Dairy or not to eat Dairy…

  • Getting used to having muscles on your body as a female athlete.

    “Why do you want to be like every other girl at your school?”

  • Should you be listening to cravings?

  • Physical, mental and emotional stressors that led to chronic injuries while playing lacrosse at USC.


“I knew my greatest strength was my physicality.”

  • How Carley found balance and formed another identity through hip-hop dancing

  • Why dance is the one thing Carley is not competitive about.

    • e relief Carley felt when she was told she was going to be a scout team player.

    • How Carley has translated her experiences as an athlete into coaching.

    • The importance of finding a non-competitive outlet as an athlete.

    • How Carley is “bringing the human out of the athlete” in her approach to coaching.

Carley teaching her athletes the power of finding balance.

Carley teaching her athletes the power of finding balance.



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Download Episode 137 : iTunes | Stitcher

117 : It Takes Trial & A Lot of Error to Find Balance w/ Former Temple Lax Captain, Kara Stroup

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Kara Stroup is a former Temple lacrosse player where she was a two-time team captain. She is also a mental health awareness advocate due to her struggles in overcoming an eating disorder that she hid for 7 years during her career as an elite athlete.  Today, she is working as a Product Director at Balance Position, which aims to empower student-athletes to achieve and maintain optimal mental wellness so they can perform their best on the field, in the classroom, and in life.  Team captains are often tasked with the job of being the glue for their teams and empowering their teammates to achieve levels they never thought possible.  Historically captains attempt to fulfill this role by surprising emotion and feelings.  Kara is proof that being open, honest and vulnerable actually garners greater respect from your teammates and is evidence that the old way of captaining is actually less effective. Below you will find a list of the talking points we cover throughout the interview:

  • The moment when Kara she realized she might have a problem and what triggered it.

  • Why the eating disorder began to get in the way of her life on her 18th birthday.

  • How easy it was to hide the eating disorder.

  • Why overtraining can be a form of a eating disorder because disordered thoughts and behavior dictating your actions.

  • What it was like to perform at an elite level while suppressing nutrition.

  • The link between depression and eating disorders.

  • The fear of telling the truth about her eating disorder.

“It was like skydiving, you just have to jump.” 

  • Managing the duties of being a team captain and taking care of herself at the same time.

  • The most beneficial treatments and the power of journaling.

  • Triggers to her disordered thoughts and how she dealt with them.

  • Academic struggles in college despite athletic success.

  • Kara's Temple Suicide Awareness article published by Temple Athletics and the overwhelm that ensued.

  • Kara's role at Balance Position and why the app is beneficial for those who struggle with their mental health, or they just want to keep tabs on it.

  • The importance of providing accurate information on how you have been doing since your last visit when working with a psychologist/therapist.

  • How Kara was able to get off all her medications.

  • Kara's hobbies outside of lacrosse which led to her earning the YRL Unsung Hero Award.

  • The mental health benefits of writing.

  • Why life without lacrosse was like breaking up with a part of herself.

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Download Episode 117 : iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud