Tedy's Team Turns 10: A Stroke on the Ice

Team member: Jamie Coyle

Growing up in Rhode Island Jamie Coyle loved hockey. "I loved the way it felt after I scored a goal or when I set up a teammate to score," she recalled. She had a knack for it, being named Rookie of the Year at age 6 in the first league she played in. At 8, she was dreaming of the Olympics. After homework, she didn’t watch TV or play video games, she practiced her stick handling in the driveway or cellar with a rubber ball and hockey stick. People began to refer to her as an "Olympic hopeful." All that changed when 12-year-old Jamie had a left-brain ischemic stroke on Aug. 9, 2009.

Immediately post-stroke, Jamie had right side weakness and difficulty speaking, which six months of speech therapy took care of. "PT and OT weren’t so bad," she said. "I didn’t mind the work, but I found constraint therapy to be difficult and tedious." She still walks with a slight limp.

With her goal to play hockey again, the seventh-grader returned to the ice a year after her stroke. "I played in one game, but it wasn’t easy anymore so I stopped after that," she said. She has since graduated from high school and is studying physical therapy at the Community College of Rhode Island — Lincoln.

Jamie’s life has intersected with Tedy Bruschi’s several times. While she was still in the hospital, David Dansereau, a friend of Tedy’s and survivor of two strokes, gave her a signed copy of Tedy’s book, Never Give Up.

She took the book’s advice to heart while working on cognitive and emotional issues resulting from her stroke. "The support of my family and counseling both helped me tremendously," she said. "It is important to push through the lows and always try to always stay positive. Like Tedy says, ‘Never give up.’"

Jamie’s neurologist referred to her as "the mini Tedy Bruschi," because doctors originally thought a patent foramen ovale like Tedy’s caused her stroke. A PFO was later ruled out as the cause of Jamie’s stroke, which was never diagnosed.

While Jamie recovered, friends of the family set up a foundation called Fight for 7 (7 was Jamie’s number) to help the Coyles with expenses of pediatric stroke. They raise money with charity events like a benefit hockey tournament and a benefit game between the Boston Bruins’ alumni team and a Fight for 7 team.

In April 2009, Dansereau, a member of Tedy’s Team, ran the Boston Marathon in Jamie’s honor. After the race, she met the team, including Tedy — "He is a lot cuter in person and so nice," she said.

Taking a play from Tedy’s advocacy work related to PFOs and stroke, Jamie has become an advocate for pediatric stroke. She wrote a book, The Luckiest Girl in the World, to get the message out — no one is too young to have a stroke.

"My stroke made me realize that God kept me here for a reason and I believe it is to help others by spreading awareness," Jamie said. "My message to other pediatric survivors is that your stroke does not define you, do whatever you want to do in life. Do not let things that negative people say to you affect you. Keep moving forward and don’t look back."

Editor’s Note: The Luckiest Girl in the World is available through Amazon. A portion of the profits goes to fund pediatric stroke research.

This information is provided as a resource to our readers. The tips, products or resources listed have not been reviewed or endorsed by the American Stroke Association.

See all segements of Tedy's Team Turns 10: 

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