Tackling the concussion issue

LIHUE — It’s a national issue that’s made its way to Kauai.

In light of football’s problem with concussions and the devastating effect they’ve had on players’ lives, a group of coaches want to make the sport safer by teaching proper technique.

USA Football, the national governing body of amateur football including youth and high school, will conduct a youth football coaches clinic on Saturday at Isenberg Park in Lihue.

“You cannot prevent concussions, but we can make an effort to do so,” said Kauai Pop Warner Football League commissioner Teddy Arroyo, who will attend the clinic. “Our coaches can’t really go to the clinics on the Mainland … This is a blessing that USA Football is bringing it to Kauai.”

USA Football master trainer and former National Football League player Doug Cosbie will lead the clinic and guide local coaches through drills that would reinforce proper tackling techniques that minimize helmet contact.

In addition, the clinic will feature education on concussion recognition and response, heat and hydration and instruction on proper helmet and shoulder pad fitting. The coaches then would pass on what they’ve learned to their fellow coaches, players and parents.

“It’s good because everybody is at the same spot learning the same safety values,” said Hanapepe Pop Warner coach Kyle Linoz. “If they learn the techniques, when they get older, it stays with them. 

Linoz, who will also attend Saturday’s clinic, added having this information would have been beneficial years ago when he was a player.

“I’ve had a concussion or two in my time,” he said. “The lack of technology and lack of knowledge back in the day, we just took it as part of the game … Now we’re more aware of what to look for. Now we know a headache is not just a headache.”

Arroyo said utilizing such a program isn’t only favorable for youth coaches but also high school coaches.

“Teaching at this young age … they’ll already know proper technique,” he said. “They (high school coaches) wouldn’t have to take time to teach them.”

Kauai High School football head coach Tommy John Cox said teaching his players proper tackling is one of his main concerns.

“Being aware of what is going on is very important. We don’t want these kids suffering injuries,” the Red Raiders coach said. “Concussions happen … For coaches to catch it early and prevent further injury is quite important.”

The clinic is part of the Heads Up Football program, an initiative by USA Football to make the sport safer. It will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit www.usafootball.com/headsup for information.

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