Local coaches attend Heads Up clinic

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 20 July 2014 at 12:00 am

Contributed Photo – Buffalo Bills head Coach Doug Marrone here speaks to the coaches attending the recent USA Heads Up Football Player Safety Coaches clinic at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The attendees included, in front at left, Niagara Orleans Football Association Player Safety Representative Geno Allport and Albion Youth Football Player Safety representative DJ Moore.

At every level of football competition, from the National Football League to youth leagues, the biggest concerns today are concussions and player safety.

Over the last couple of years the NFL, through its USA Football initiative, has developed the Heads Up program for teaching coaches and players about concussion recognition and response protocols, proper tackling techniques and instruction on proper helmet and shoulder pad fitting.

Recently, the Buffalo Bills hosted a USA Heads Up Football Player Safety coaches training session at Ralph Wilson Stadium and the local Niagara Orleans Football Association was represented by NOFA Player Safety representative Geno Allport and Albion Youth Football Player Safety representative DJ Moore.

“The NFL is 100 percent behind teaching all coaches at all levels from youth to high school the proper techniques so the players keep their heads up on all contact,” said Allport. “Football is the biggest sport out there so we have the bullseye on us for concussions. We are not the leader in concussions but we are being proactive in teaching new and safer ways. Proper fitting of helmet and shoulder pads to keep them safe and watching for signs of concussion and taking the proper steps before allowing a child back on the field.”

“At NOFA we are 100 percent on board with this,” Allport added. “One hundred percent of our coaches are USA Football certified and one member of each organization is also a certified USA Football Player Safety Coach.”

The speakers at the clinic included Buffalo Bills Head Coach Doug Marrone. In a Bills press release Marrone, who has a son of youth football playing age (age 10), is quoted as telling the coaches, “I can relate to a lot of the parents out there today with their concerns of obviously make in a safer game, the certification of the coaches, the teaching, concussion awareness and proper fitting of equipment. My wife and I have been researching what type of program we want to put our son in and I’m very excited about USA Football and having our organization be a part of Heads Up Football.”

The techniques and drills the local NOFA officials learned at the clinic were started to be put into practice with players at the youth football camp held this past week at Albion’s Bullard Park and will continue when NOFA players begin practice for the upcoming season in a few days.