Headway Releases "NEW TOUGH" Short Film


On February 3rd, 2017, Headway released a short film called New Tough to promote a safer sports culture surrounding concussions. The film chronicles one young athletes recovery from a concussion and encourages all athletes to handle the injury properly. It was created to support Headway's New Tough awareness campaign, which the team has placed particular emphasis on since launching. 

Headway's emphasis on improving sports culture stems from facts: the CDC estimates that 69% of student athletes neglect to report possible concussions symptoms, and there is a growing breadth of studies highlighting the risk posed to athletes who continue to play with head injuries.

Headway sought to address this by launching its New Tough campaign and developed an extensive educational section that includes information on the importance of timely removal from play (see here).

To support these efforts, it produced a short film to better articulate the meaning of "New Tough". With this phrase, Headway seeks to challenge the cultural stigmas surrounding concussions by re-framing a pre-existing and understandable term. It suggests to athletes that there is nothing tough about playing through a head injury, and encourages them to rethink the tendency to play through all forms of pain in sports. 

On February 2nd, the film was pre-screened by The Gunnery, a preparatory school in Connecticut where the film was shot. Shooting occurred over the weekend of January 15th and 16th. The main character was Riley Brennan, a member of The Gunnery Boy's Varsity Hockey team. His teammates served as extras in the film along with other students and faculty from The Gunnery community.

To get the on ice shots, the boys' hockey game against Stanstead College was filmed in a documentary style format on January 15th. After the game, the boys team spent several hours with the film crew recreating a number of shots for the film. The following day, Riley worked with the crew to get the remaining off ice shots. The Doctor featured in the film is Dr. David Wang, a Sport Medicine doctor out of Farmington, Connecticut. 

Headway co-founder Paige Decker introduced the film and followed with a speech that expanded on the meaning of New Tough and provided education on concussions. 

Decker, pictured above, presented the film to The Gunnery community at school meeting.

Decker, pictured above, presented the film to The Gunnery community at school meeting.

In her speech, she explained that New Tough is "an acknowledgement and nod to the toughness that isn’t talked about as often. It’s an invitation to embrace vulnerability. And it’s a reminder that we have a choice. A choice to put your health first, to seek help when you need it, to acknowledge and carefully treat an injury or illness you cannot visibly see, and to take the right steps towards creating a better you."

The main character's (Riley) journey is just one example of what it means to be New Tough.

"In the film Riley handles his concussion properly. He reports it right away and he takes the necessary time to heal. He works hard. He’s challenged and he’s disciplined. And just as important, he has support and encouragement from his coaches and his teammates along the way. And when he’s ready, he returns to the game that he loves. He is an emblematic role model, with a message that applies to all facets of life, particularly those that each of you face on a daily basis as high school students."

The public release of New Tough occurred the following day, which coincided with the ECAC Concussion Awareness weekend, where twenty-four collegiate teams and over 600 athletes participated in raising awareness for concussions and supporting Headway's efforts. The league and teams helped promote the video by sharing on social media.

New Tough was written and directed by Robin D'Oench of RTDFilms and produced by Claire Brooks at SuperSwell Co. To date, the film has received over 55,000 views and has been screened at various schools, medical conferences and sports communities. Headway would like to thank Robin, Claire and The Gunnery community for making this project happen! 



Headway Foundation