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Notre Dame

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Danny Spond, who had 39 tackles last year, was expected to start at outside linebacker.

Recurrence of migraines ends senior’s career

Danny Spond was forced to walk away from Notre Dame’s football team because of debilitating migraine headaches, which also kept him off the field at the start of last season.

The former linebacker announced in a statement released by the university Tuesday that another hemiplegic migraine suffered in preseason camp was the reason he has stopped playing football.

“I’ve received the best medical treatment and guidance possible,” Spond said in the statement. “Unfortunately, an exact cause of these migraines remains undetermined, and in order to assure my overall well-being, I’m forced to walk away from the game with an extremely heavy heart.”

Spond missed the first two games of last season after suffering a hemiplegic migraine in fall camp. He said at the time that the attack left the left side of his body numb and wondering if he would be able to walk again.

Spond started taking medication daily to try to control the migraines, and after he recovered, he returned to Notre Dame and started the final 11 games last season.

Coach Brian Kelly announced Saturday that Spond had to stop playing football after the 6-foot-1, 248-pound senior used a cane to move around as he attended the Irish’s practice. Kelly said the Littleton, Colo., native informed the team Saturday that he would no longer be able to play.

“Hemiplegic migraines are a rare form of headache that present with temporary stroke-like symptoms, such as weakness and slurred speech,” Notre Dame head football team physician Dr. Jennifer Malcolm said in a statement. “Danny has suffered from a series of these migraines, but with medication, rehabilitation and a positive attitude he should avoid any long-term consequences.

“As there are no fully reliable predictors of hemiplegic migraines and ultimate prevention is extremely challenging, we fully support Danny.”

Spond had 39 tackles and an interception last season. He played in 39 games with Notre Dame, amassing 53 tackles, four pass breakups and an interception.

Spond was expected to start at outside linebacker this season.

Freshman and former Bishop Luers standout Jaylon Smith, junior Ben Councell and sophomore Romeo Okwara are expected to compete for playing time with Spond out.

Kelly said Spond will remain with the team to help guide the outside linebackers and will travel with the Irish this season.

“I’ve played this game my entire life, and losing it makes me feel as if I have lost something inside,” Spond said. “But I find comfort in knowing my Lord will open the next chapter in my life and fill what’s been taken.

“I promise to continue to give all I can to this University this year by coaching my position and providing senior leadership in all ways. You may no longer hear my name on the field, but I promise you, this is not the last you will hear of Danny Spond. With God, my family, and Notre Dame, I will persevere to do great things.”

tkrausz@jg.net

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