How the Lacrosse World Helped Chris Bocklet Feel Like Himself Again

Chris Bocklet, the former All-American at Virginia and pro lacrosse All-Star, suffered a traumatic brain injury on Jan. 1 in a longboarding accident. After months of rehabilitation, Bocklet was able to share his entire story with Paul Carcterra on Season 4, Ep. 8 of “Overtime.”

To listen to the entire episode, head to Apple and Spotify.

Chris Bocklet knows little about the accident that has altered his life — both in the immediate and long-term future.

He’s been told that he fell while longboarding and that he made it to where he was staying before he and his girlfriend realized the magnitude of what had happened.

“I walked in and I apparently looked like a child,” he said. “I had my hands on my head. I put my hands down and I looked at them and they were just covered in blood.”

It took four minutes for an ambulance to pick up Bocklet, but months of rehabilitation for him to return to himself again. Bocklet suffered a traumatic brain injury and quickly slipped into aphasia, a condition that prevented him from being able to speak or understand language.

In the early days of his recovery, all Bocklet could express was “yes,” “no” and “thank you.” Among the pleasantries he could have been limited to, he was thankful those were the words his mind retained.

“They were great words, so if I was only going to say a few words, I’m pretty happy I was a polite guy,” he joked.

Bocklet spent a few weeks at the Shepherd Center, a spinal cord and brain injury rehabilitation center in Atlanta. He then made the trip back home to Florida, where his girlfriend and family welcomed him with open arms.

The Bocklet family had been there every step of the way for Chris — as was the entire lacrosse community. Thousands of lacrosse players, coaches and fans flooded the GoFundMe account started by Casey Powell. Hundreds of others sent messages to Bocklet’s phone, to which he had no access for weeks after the accident.

When he did pick up his phone for the first time, he couldn’t comprehend the messages, but he felt the love. In that moment, he felt like Chris Bocklet again.

“I didn’t really know what a cell phone was, but I knew it was connected to the outside world,” he said. “One day, I got the balls to open it, and I was so nervous. I opened it and all of a sudden these names pop up — I had no idea of any of these names, and these could be my best friend. They were all just on my side. That’s when things started to turn. I started to feel like I was back on a team.”

Now, Bocklet is easing back into a life that he enjoyed so much before his life-altering injury. He’s been connected to the lacrosse world since he picked up a stick when he was a child, and even after his career ended, he intends to bolster a community that has given him so much this year.

He recently has been granted the opportunity to work for three days a week, and he’s never been more excited. His X10 lacrosse camps are still moving forward, and he’s also working on speaking with various youth, high school and college teams, hoping to share the positivity and mindfulness that got him through the toughest point in his life.

The process won’t be the same — Bocklet will have to take precautions in order to coach, snowboard or do any other physical activity. For many, restrictions may come off as a negative, but Bocklet has taken those challenges in stride — much like he has with everything he’s encountered this past year.

“I need to protect the noggin, so I might be the coach out there that’s wearing a helmet showing the kids how it’s done,” he joked.

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