PRESCOTT - Austin "Buck" Selleck was having a productive season start as Right Wing/Center for the South Grenville Rangers Midget Rep team in the fall of 2015. Coming off of a 48-goal and 30-assist season in 2014, Buck and his team had high hopes and the utmost confidence that the rising young star would continue to succeed throughout the 2015 season and beyond. It was off the ice, and on the football field, where Buck's life would be significantly changed and his athletic career suddenly halted.
A concussion sustained while playing football left the then 15-year-old with a concussion and a short time on the mend. Upon being cleared to return to the ice, a second concussion suffered during a tournament would be the catalyst to the standstill of his sports career and to the beginning of his journey to regain health and normalcy in every aspect of his life.
The accidents have left the 16-year-old St. Mary's student with prolonged and debilitating symptoms and difficulties, resulting from damage to the Occipital Nerve. Dizziness, chronic headaches, concentration and vision problems, among other issues, have become a part of daily life for Buck and his family. Numerous trips to CHEO and treatment by physiotherapists and osteopaths have made little progress in Buck's case.
"His life really came to a standstill at first. Not just in sports, but in school as well. He has problems concentrating on or looking at whiteboards and screens, and his daily headaches can take a lot out of him. He has to be very mindful of taking it easy and focusing on relaxation to try and control his symptoms to some extent. That's not easy for a 16-year-old. We have found out that his injury is muscle-resistant, so the typical treatments weren't having much result. Our next step is Lidocaine injections into the base of his skull. He still has a long way to go before sports will be back on the table; his body is still recuperating, but we feel positive about the future," said Paula Selleck, Buck's mother.
Though the sudden transition and temporary hiatus to his hockey career initially left the young player upset and unsure about his future and his place within the South Grenville Minor Hockey Association, Buck has now found a role, responsibilities, and a new purpose with the team and the sport that means so much to him.
Following his diagnosis, Buck continued to attend every practice, game, and team event, taking it upon himself to assume a number of responsibilities behind the scenes. He runs the game clock, organizes and controls music throughout the games, cheers on his teammates, and is always willing to assist wherever needed. He also continues to partake in no-contact practice with his teammates.
"It has got to be tough, having that kind of skill and passion and not being able to play. On top of that, he's had so much to deal with physically because of his injuries. That hasn't stopped him for a minute from coming out and showing up for his team. He's absolutely a huge part of this team, he's there for whatever we need; he's his team's biggest supporter," said South Grenville Rangers Midget Rep Team Head Coach Dean Bologna of Buck's dedication to his team and to hockey.
To show their gratitude for Buck's efforts and their pride in having him as a teammate, the Rangers, along with the coaching staff and families of other teammates, came together to purchase and present Buck with a personalized Rangers jacket in a ceremony before a home game this winter.
"He was thrilled to get that jacket. These are kids he's grown up with and played with all these years, and he loves his team. For them to do something like that for him meant a lot to him. They are a great group of kids and coaching staff," said his mother.
"He loves hockey. He's a great kid, and I think being involved in hockey brings balance to his life. We're lucky and very grateful to have him as an important part of this team," said Bologna.