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Youth Football Safety Clinic Coming to Catt-LV

Next month, youth football coaches from across Western New York will visit Cattaraugus-Little Valley Central School for a clinic on safety.

USA Football, the NFL-endowed nonprofit national governing body for amateur, youth and high school football, hosts a regional Player Safety Coach clinic July 10 at C-LV.

The home youth league for the clinic, the Cattaraugus County Midget Football League, has had to face the rising concerns over football safety like any other league in the sport. This fall, the CCMFL is down to 10 teams after 11 the last few seasons with the combining of Cattaraugus and Little Valley. League president Brad Hurley acknowledged he wants to raise education of his coaches in part to ease concerns for families and preserve participation in the sport.

“Our numbers are definitely a little down right now,” Hurley said. “You can’t know for sure why. When school enrollment declines, that affects us too, but I am sure the safety concerns are a part of it.

“There was a time when we had 17 teams, then about five years ago we lost a couple teams to another league.”

USA Football asks all of its youth coaches — assistants and head coaches — receive certification in USA Football’s Heads Up initiative through an online program. This includes “Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concussion recognition and response protocols; sudden cardiac arrest protocols; proper helmet and shoulder pad fitting; heat and hydration information; as well as Heads Up Tackling SM and Heads Up Blocking techniques, which aim to reduce helmet contact,” according to a USA Football release.

The CCMFL is aiming for 100 percent certification in its member teams this fall.

“That’s something they came very close to achieving in 2015 and I think we can hit that mark in 2016,” said Aaron Hill, an East Regional Manager for USA Football and former Salamanca high school coach.

The CCMFL, under Hurley’s leadership became “100 percent committed” to the Heads Up program, Hill said.

“They made some really good strides in 2015 with each of their organizations and they’re doing a really nice job advancing the game,” Hill said. “Really for them it’s about education for their coaches, education for their parents and about driving the game of football in their communities. I’m proud that they’re committing to make the game a little better in that area.”

Each team has a player safety representative, while Ellicottville’s Tim Grinols serves at the league’s Player Safety Coach.

“If there was a question, say (for example) with the Salamanca Warriors, he would go down and make sure they have the proper technique,” Hurley said. “The Warriors will have their own man there but if there is ever a question or a doubt, Tim can step up and take care of that.”

At the clinic, a USA Football instructor called the “Master Trainer” will teach a Player Safety Coach from each member team. USA Football aims to bring around 50 coaches to send back to teams in the region and have them host their own informational clinics for parents and coaching clinics for their colleagues.

The half-day clinic includes material on equipment fitting, concussion recognition and response, heat and hydration, sudden cardiac arrest and on-field technique, Hill noted. The last segment on blocking and tackling includes hands-on participation for coaches.

“Then the guys taking the course will actually go through the process, they’ll actually do the tackling drills so that they can pass it on to the kids,” Hurley said. “The PSC people will go back to their home teams and instruct the rest of the coaching staff and they will go from there.”

Coaches seeking more information are asked to contact USA Football or Hurley

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