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New Jersey native's frightening injury during women's lacrosse game sparks concerns about safety

N.J. native's injury during lacrosse game sparks concerns about safety
N.J. native's injury during lacrosse game sparks concerns about safety 04:36

STONY BROOK, N.Y. -- Some are questioning the safety of women's lacrosse after a New Jersey native nearly died from an injury during a game at Stony Brook.

"I've been playing since I was 6, 7," Yale lacrosse player Taylor Everson said. "The reason why I loved it was just the competitiveness of it, the team culture of it."

Everson's passion and dedication to the game eventually earned her a spot on the prestigious Yale women's lacrosse team, where she would suffer an injury that almost took her life.

"I just felt this, what it felt like, it was like a knife," she said. "I knew something was definitely more wrong because the pain just kept progressing."

Video from the game on Feb. 25 shows the moment the Yale sophomore says she was cross-checked by a Stony Brook player. Everson was hit across the back. No penalty was issued and no foul was called.

Doctors say the hit split Everson's kidney in half and left her with severe internal bleeding. She was hospitalized for two weeks in the ICU and underwent multiple surgeries.

"Taylor was this close to being paralyzed, if that girl had hit her in the back and cracked her spine. And if it had hit her spleen and she bled for 90 minutes before we got her to the ER, we probably would've lost her," said Everson's mother, Carolyn Everson.

Stony Brook's athletic director wished Taylor a speedy recovery. He said the three officials on the field saw nothing egregious about the play and refused multiple requests for an on-camera interview for this story, his office telling CBS2, "This isn't a story."

But James Madison University women's lacrosse coach Colleen Shearer disagrees.

"Was that a cross-check, in your opinion?" CBS2's Jessica Moore asked.

"Yes," Shearer said.

"And are cross-checks illegal?" Moore asked.

"Yes... They are," Shearer said.

"It seems like you're hesitating," Moore said.

"Well they are, technically, in the rule book," Shearer said.

According to NCAA rules, holding the lacrosse stick horizontally is legal, but lunging forward with a horizontal stick isn't.

"She did have her stick horizontal, and she, her... your stick is not allowed to be being pushed into another kid's body, but we are so desensitized to it that of course it does. Every time a defender plays on us, the sticks are jabbing into our body, so that's where the gray area is coming in," Shearer said.

"It sounds like your position is it's common but perhaps it shouldn't be," Moore said.

"Right, 100 percent," Shearer said.

Men's lacrosse players wear protective padding; women do not.

The NCAA says ambulances at games are up to the school's discretion, but in practice, most schools do have an ambulance on standby for contact sports, which women's lacrosse, by definition, is not.

"Were you surprised when you realized that there wasn't an ambulance on standby and there wasn't an EMT, no emergency response in case something happened?" Moore asked Carolyn Everson.

"No EMT, no one took her blood pressure. If they had taken her blood pressure right after this happened, they would've noticed that she was in shock," Carolyn Everson said. "I feel a huge obligation to make sure that this does not happen to another girl or woman playing the game, and we're going to do everything we possibly can, and that includes advocating for better rules, better training for the officials, better, frankly, review and performance of the officials if they're not calling the games properly, and I think some of the coaches really need to be also evaluated as to how they're teaching the game."

Shearer agrees.

"I think we should have what the men have ... Injuries can happen. We need to have the same protection as far as the same services, point blank, and I also, I would like to see us try to coach a little better instead of going to pads," Shearer said. "Until we penalize the hits drastically, no one is going to-- because why would you stop something that's effective?"

As for Taylor Everson, she's channeling the strength that led her to the field to work her way back on it, slowly, but surely.

"Do you see yourself returning to the field?" Moore asked.

"I hope so. I mean, I want to to be with my team, and I think I, whatever way I come back, I will be part of the team, and I want to be there for my teammates," Taylor Everson said.

The NCAA tells CBS2, in light of Everson's injury, members of the women's lacrosse rules committee have submitted proposals related to safety and protocol for review when the committee meets in June.

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