by Pete Mazzaccaro
The Wissahickon Skating Club was faced with a rare tragedy on Monday, Feb. 6, when a teenaged member of its Warriors hockey team died after complaining the day before that he was experiencing a severe headache.
After a match on Sunday morning, Nick Bond, 18, a senior at Springfield Township High School, was rushed to Einstein Medical Center where doctors attempted to relieve pressure in the young man’s brain. The procedure failed and Bond was pronounced dead the next day.
The Philadelphia coroner’s office ruled the death an accident stemming from blunt force trauma to the head.
Bond’s father, Robert, was coach of the team for which Nick played. The young man had spent years at the Chestnut Hill club and was a longtime member of the Chestnut Hill Youth Sports Club’s baseball program. He played football and lacrosse for his high school. He was one of four children of Robert and Margaret Bond. His brothers are C.J., Derek and Tyler Bond.
“For those of you who were not fortunate enough to have known Nick, I would describe him to you as a true Wiss kid,” said Wissahickon Skating Club president Kevin Hamel. “He was a fiery and skilled competitor who believed that success on and off the ice was built on teamwork and friendship. Year after year Nick was selected by his teammates and coaches as team captain. He led with confidence and compassion. Though somewhat diminutive, Nick fearlessly challenged every opposing player regardless of size. He was, without question, the epitome of what we want most in our children.”
A funeral service for Bond was held Monday, Feb. 13, at Holy Martyrs Catholic Church in Oreland, with interment following at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.
Memorial donations can be made to one of the following: Shane’s Kindness, 301 Integrity Ave., Oreland, PA 19075; Wissahickon Skating Club, 550 West Willow Grove Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19118; and Springfield Lacrosse Parents Association, Springfield High School, 1801 Paper Mill Road, Erdenheim, PA 19038.
Despite the clarification from the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s office that Bond’s death was an accident, its cause remains a bit of a mystery. According to reports in the Philadelphia Inquirer, no one at the game Bond played on Sunday morning can recall an incident in which Bond appeared to hurt his head.
Death resulting from participation in youth sport is extraordinarily rare. According to figures kept by the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, only six high school students died as the direct result of an injury suffered while playing sports during the 2014-2015 school year (July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015). Some 16 died from complications and other conditions triggered by participation in sport. It’s a small number considering the 7,807,047 the organization said participated in sports that year.
Ice Hockey has proven to be prone to head injury.
Paul Ronksley, of the University of Calgary in Canada, completed a study in 2015 that found that concussion rates in youth hockey were more than twice what is experienced in American football, which itself was more than double the rate experienced in other contact sports.
A later study found that hockey concussions do begin to become less common as children age, with children 12 to 14 twice as likely to suffer head injury than those between 15 and 18. This is counter to concussion rates in football in which injuries become more common the older the child gets.
That said, the rate of fatalities and injuries for players of American Football far outpace that of any other youth sport tracked by the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury. In the 2014 – 2015 school year, 14 of the 22 high school athlete deaths occurred as a result of playing football.
For full reports from the NCCIS, see http://nccsir.unc.edu/reports/
Pete Mazzaccaro can be reached at 215-248-8802 or firstname.lastname@example.org