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February 6, 2014

Harvard's Blackwell hopes to be back next year

Concussion symptoms derail standout from North Andover

BOSTON — It was one of the most difficult decisions of Colin Blackwell’s young life.

As much as it pained him, the 20-year-old North Andover resident and Harvard University junior knew that for both his long-term health, and his long-term hockey career, he had to step away, at least for the time being.

Lingering symptoms from post-concussion syndrome have forced Blackwell to the miss the entire 2013-14 college hockey season. He’s also decided not to take classes at Harvard during the spring semester, focusing on getting back to full health and targeting a fall return.

“It’s what’s best for my health,” Blackwell said last night during the 62nd annual Beanpot at TD Garden, where the Crimson fell to Northeastern in the opener, 6-0.

“For so long, I was focused just on getting back, or on school, and I never let myself fully heal. There was so much stress trying to come back I might have shot myself in the foot a little.”

Blackwell’s sophomore season for the Crimson was cut short by concussions nearly 12 months ago. He suffered an initial concussion during a game and was symptom-free in a matter of weeks. The St. John’s Prep graduate received another concussion while working out, however, and the short time between them seemed to magnify the symptoms.

“I’d never had a concussion in my whole life, so I didn’t know what it felt like,” Blackwell explained. “At first, I thought I was sick. You have pressure in your head and some in your chest, and in general you just feel tired and worn down. For a while, I kind of thought I had a head cold, but when it didn’t pass our trainers diagnosed me with a concussion.”

Throughout the summer, Blackwell just didn’t feel right. He could see in himself everything he’d heard about concussions in professional sports — feeling sensitive to light, good days turning bad for seemingly no reason at all, and some mood swings.

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