Football coach stresses safetyPublished 10:37am Wednesday, August 22, 2012
In the Aug. 14 edition of the Albert Lea Tribune, Tim Engstrom’s column, Pothole Prairie, addressed a serious issue in football: concussions. I would like to take this chance to inform our readers of how seriously we take this issue in our Tiger football program. I will also take this opportunity to address other issues in his column.
First and foremost in our program we want our players to be safe. We outfit our players with high quality helmets. We stress to them the importance of wearing a form fitted mouth guard as that also will help with the prevention of concussions. If there is a collision it’s important that these two protective measures are taken. We also teach our players the proper technique in tackling.
In the summer of 2011, Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill that all coaches had to take a course on concussions. This was for all coaches in all sports. Not only that but all officials that work for the Minnesota State High School League are also required to take the concussion course.
The course stressed identifying the symptoms of a concussion. Coaches and officials are more aware of these symptoms, and we hope that this will help in the early detection of a possible concussion. If a player is removed from a game by an official, coach or medical staff, that player cannot return to the contest until they are cleared by medical personnel. This is a state high school league rule and a good one.
In Albert Lea we have two athletic trainers that work with our athletes. Afton Wacholz and Lynn Scheevel do a wonderful job of caring for our athletes. Our athletes are given a baseline concussion test that is taken on the computer. If an athlete is suspected of having a concussion they will take that concussion test again. The athlete’s baseline numbers will be compared to the athlete’s current numbers. That will give our trainers a great indication of the athlete’s health. Again, and I stress, our athletes are not allowed to practice or compete until they are cleared by medical staff.
I was however, disappointed to read that Tim didn’t gain anything from being out for football. He thanked the taxpayers for knowing things such as “numbering scheme, how to use the threads to throw a spiral, the proper way to hit a tackling dummy or even the single-wing offense.” It was unfortunate to read that.
Football taught me the concept of teamwork, how to deal with adversity, how to set goals, how to be a leader and football built friendships.
For those players that go through Albert Lea football, it’s my hope that you take away from your experiences more than learning numbering schemes, how to throw a spiral, the proper way to hit a tackling dummy or even any offensive scheme we may run. I want you to look back and hope you gained valuable life learning skills, experiences and friendships the way I did.
Head football coach
Albert Lea High School