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Monday, August 26, 2013

FCPS Becomes First School District in U.S. to Adopt Heads Up® Football in All High Schools

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) has become the first school district in the United States to adopt USA Football’s Heads Up FootballSM program to promote a better, safer game for its high school student-athletes. 

In preparation for the 2013 season, all 250 high school football coaches in FCPS—including head coaches and assistants—were trained in Heads Up Football techniques that reinforce tackling mechanics aimed at reducing helmet contact, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concussion recognition and response protocols, and proper helmet and shoulder pad fitting. Coaches also completed USA Football’s varsity-level coach training course designed for National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) membership. USA Football is the sport’s national governing body.

With 25 high school football programs and more than 3,300 student-athletes, FCPS high schools join more than 1,900 youth football programs nationwide in adopting Heads Up Football this season. Each Fairfax County high school has designated one coach from its staff to serve as its player safety coach. This individual was trained by USA Football to implement Heads Up Football’s player safety protocols, including coaching certification, and conducted safety clinics for fellow coaches, parents and players.

The adoption of Heads Up Football by FCPS for 2013 mirrors the action taken by the Fairfax County Youth Football League, one of the largest
independent youth leagues in the country. Fairfax County represents the nation’s first youth league-high school Heads Up Football continuum.

“The health and safety of our student-athletes is our number one priority,” said Bill Curran, FCPS director of student activities and athletics. “Heads Up Football affords our school district the highest standards of athlete safety and coaching education within our students’ most popular participatory sport. Hopefully, more sports will offer programs similar to Heads Up Football, which helps us to enrich our students with the values, health benefits, and other rewards gained from athletics.”

FCPS high school coaches were trained in the five primary elements of Heads Up Football:

 

Heads Up Tackling
·      USA Football’s Heads Up Tackling technique, endorsed by medical and football experts, teaches players to keep their heads up and out of the line of contact.
Coaching certification
·      All coaches will complete USA Football’s varsity-level coach training course designed for National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) membership.
Concussion recognition and response
·      Coaches learn and are assessed on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concussion recognition and response protocols.
·      Coaches, parents and players are taught concussion-related protocols at the start of the season and have them reinforced throughout the year.
Player Safety Coach
·      Appointed by each participating Heads Up Football high school or youth program. This individual is trained by USA Football to implement Heads Up Football’s player safety protocols, including coaching certification, and conducts safety clinics for fellow coaches, parents, and players.
Equipment fitting
·      Coaches, parents, and players are taught proper helmet and shoulder pad fitting.

 
“Fairfax County Public Schools is to be commended for its continued commitment to the health of its football student-athletes,” said Scott Hallenbeck, USA Football executive director. “This show of leadership in Fairfax County—from the youth level through its high schools—is being noticed throughout the high school football community. Other districts across the country will follow its example.”
 
In addition to the NFL and NFL Foundation, organizations that support Heads Up Football include the NCAA, National Federation of State High School Associations, American Football Coaches Association, and the Sports and Fitness Industry Association. 
 
USA Football’s Heads Up Tackling technique was developed with contributions of USA Football’s Tackle Advisory Committee, which includes Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald, UCLA head coach Jim Mora, former NFL running back Merril Hoge, Christopher Columbus High School (Miami) head coach Chris Merritt, and sports psychologist David Ukelson, M.D.
 
About USA Football: USA Football leads the game’s development, inspires participation and ensures a better and safer experience for all youth, high school and other amateur players. The independent nonprofit is the official youth football development partner of the NFL, its 32 teams and the NCAA’s Atlantic Athletic Conference. USA Football (www.usafootball.com), endowed by the NFL and NFLPA in 2002, provides more than $1 million annually in equipment grants and youth league volunteer background check subsidies.
 
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Note: For more information, contact Bill Curran at 571-423-1260 or wgcurran@fcps.edu or Steve Alic at 317-489-4417 or salic@usafootball.com