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.