Towne Salute: Sally Mastroberti of Positive Strides
Mar 03, 2017 11:19AM ● Published by Cate Reynolds
Sally and her daugter Lila
Once a Division 1 scholarship volleyball player for West Virginia University, Sally Mastroberti was just your average sports mom. With three athletic children, Mastroberti was not only their mom, but also their coach throughout their younger years in basketball, lacrosse, and soccer. Once her son’s athletic careers reached its end, she relied on her only daughter, Lila, to continue the athleticism in the family.
Lila was a scholarship lacrosse player for High Point University in North Carolina and according to her mom, had a fantastic freshman year. On September 20th, 2013, heading into her sophomore year, Lila was struck in the head with a lacrosse stick by a teammate. A total freak accident resulting in a severe concussion. After struggling both physically and emotionally, Lila and her mom decided it was time to hang up her cleats.
“It was a huge emotional struggle for both of us,” Mastroberti admits. “Lila from the athlete point of view and me from a mom point of view because you’re watching your little girl lose her dreams. It was very emotional”
Luckily for the Anne Arundel County Pre-school Special Education teacher, not soon after, in 2014, did she discover the non-profit organization, Positive Strides, where she looked to share Lila’s story in hopes of helping others.
“Positive Strides has been such a saving grace for me in my time of need, so it’s nice to give back,” Mastroberti says.
Jumping in feet first, Mastroberti has become a valued volunteer at Positive Strides, being an integral part of their Injury Prevention & Nutrition seminars. Mastroberti, along with Positive Strives Founder, Ryan Brant, are taking these seminars to all Anne Arundel County high schools, telling her story and educating athletes, coaches, and parents on proper protocol for concussions. Mastroberti hopes that by sharing what they’ve learned, it will make the path easier and less complicated for future injured athletes.
“Ryan has been my guardian angel for sure,” Mastroberti says. “He has helped me take my negative story and share it in a positive light. I’ve realized that seeing Lila walk down the aisle is more important than playing Penn State the next day.”
Frustrated by the lack of procedures and protocols for concussions at the collegiate level, Brant and Mastroberti went through each school in the Power Five conference (Big East, Atlantic Coast, Big 12, Big Ten, and Pac-12) to determine the checklist and polices available to student athletes and their parents regarding concussions.
“We found out that a majority of these schools didn’t have this information available online, which was kind of alarming,” Brant says.
Knowing these schools lacked the proper procedures and protocols, the two teamed up, did some research, put together approximately 100 protocols, and went to Capitol Hill, presenting their information to the NCAA representatives and the Concussion Injury Task Force.
“Once they looked at the spreadsheets with the missing pieces, they jumped on it,” Mastroberti explains. “It was both fantastic and rewarding for us because when they came out with the safety protocol checklist all the colleges had to follow, I thought if it happened again, at least there will be some credibility built in with that.”
According to Mastroberti, the biggest components that were missing when Lila suffered her concussion were education, a symptom checklist, and cognitive rest. With help from High Point University President, Athletic Director, and Lila’s lacrosse coach, the university’s concussion management plan was revised and updated.
“Throughout this journey, the Serenity Prayer was and continues to be my driving force,” Mastroberti admits. “To accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference. I can’t change Lila’s injury or the mistakes that were made, but I can make a positive difference in hopes to ‘Educate, Advocate, and Support’ other athletes, coaches, trainers, and families.”
While Lila has never met Brant, or been a part of Positive Strides, Mastroberti admits, “She knew I needed it. She loves that I have a mission. It’s been really healthy for us and our bond is so much stronger than it ever has been.”
While March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, Mastroberti and Brant not only hold multiple fundraisers, but they will travel to Washington, D.C., for Congressional Brain Injury Task Force Awareness Day where they have the opportunity to meet many other athletes and their families.
“We believe very strongly that athletics has given him [Brant] as an athlete and me as a mom, more than it took away from us.”
For more information on Positive Strives, visit positive-strides.org.