Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 8, 2012 Issue

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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A Strong Re-Spond Junior outside linebacker Danny Spond bounces back from August scare By Lou Somogyi Notre Dame’s Aug. 8 practice was just another day in the office for junior outside linebacker Danny Spond, especially once he started feeling headaches. That’s what happens, he thought, during the first week of practice in the hot sun. But when his “grating headache” intensified he had to stop, ask the trainers for help, was assisted on to a cart … and lost all feeling on the left side of his body. He was rushed to a hospital, where he was immobilized in darkness for two days, unable to sleep, and understandably “petrified.” “I had every imaginable test done to me, and everything came back clear,” Spond said. A stroke was ruled out, and so was a concussion. The final diagnosis was severe migraines. “It’s something that caught me by surprise, so unexpected because I’ve never had headache problems before in my life,” Spond said. After not being able to get out of bed for two days, Spond and his loved ones felt ecstasy when he was able to move his left arm again and put one foot in front of the other. He left the hospital several days after he was admitted, but some migraines persisted for a couple of weeks. “I had to really monitor to it and cater to it,” said Spond, whose sleep continued to suffer while dealing with the pain. He is now on prescribed medication, which he takes if he can feel any of the migraine symptoms coming on. “I might take a daily one just to make sure everything is under control,” Spond said. It didn’t take long for him to have the itch to return to the football field. “That first concern was if my migraines were caused because of trauma or anything like that,” Spond said. “They’re not. The love for the game that I have is what drove me. “I would sit there and wonder, ‘Is it going to be the smartest to come back and play? I have to look out for my health.’ That was very short-lived. That love for the game and passion overrode that.” Spond took incremental steps in his return. The week of the Navy opener, he began light running. During the preparation for Purdue, he put on the pads again and began very light contact work. “By Michigan State week when all the tests had come back good, they gave me the okay [to play],” Spond said of the medical staff. Head coach Brian Kelly saw no signs of tentativeness. “He pushed the envelope,” Kelly said. “He was the one who wanted to get out there. And so I think we had no hesitation of practicing him and playing him, because of the way he handled it. He wasn’t, ‘Oh, I don’t know if I should play.’ It’s always been, ‘Once I’m cleared, I’m going to play.’ ” Spond received the starting nod — the first in his career — against then-No. 10 Michigan State in East Lansing on Sept. 15 and was part of a stellar defensive effort that held the Spartans to no touchdowns in a home game for the first time since 1991. He was credited with four tackles at the versatile drop or Dog position. “I couldn’t imagine coming back to a more exciting game,” Spond said. When asked how he graded out, Spond responded, “I have a lot to work on. I’ll never settle for anything and say that I’m happy where I’m at.” Given where he was nearly two months ago, Spond in actuality must be elated.

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