INDIANAPOLIS – At the eighth Youth Sports Safety Summit today, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association presented its Youth Sports Safety Ambassador Award to two honorees – one individual and one organization – each demonstrating major commitment to the health and well-being of young athletes.
This award recognizes an individual and/or entity that has made a significant contribution to advancing athlete safety based on one of two criteria:
- By providing exemplary youth sports safety protocols and care that set a precedent and/or model that others can follow.
- By advancing youth sports safety in one of the following areas: provision of appropriate medical care, research, policy change and/or resource allocation.
This year’s recipients include:
Pop Warner Little Scholars, for its continued commitment to youth athlete safety. Among its many safety measures has been the first national youth sports concussion policy requiring that an athlete who has been removed from play with a suspected head injury not return to any Pop Warner activity until being evaluated and cleared by a licensed medical professional trained in concussion evaluation and management.
Pop Warner also prohibits full speed, head-on blocking or tackling drills in which players line up more than three yards apart. When it comes to making the game safer and better for its athletes, the organization is guided by an independent medical advisory committee formed in 2010. All coaches are trained in the USA Football Heads Up program.
Most recently, Pop Warner reduced all player contact to 25 percent of practice time and was the first national football organization at any level to eliminate kickoffs this past year.
Larry Roziers, assistant superintendent, Family and Community Engagement, Duval County Public Schools in Jacksonville, Florida, for championing the efforts to make safe sports programs a priority in his school district.
For several years, Roziers met with local physicians, business owners, philanthropists and community organizations to promote student athlete safety. Through data collected from a pilot program that introduced athletic trainers (ATs) to his district high schools, Roziers was able to influence community partners to create a program to place ATs in all 17 high schools by 2020. Initially, community partners will absorb much of the funding; however, by 2020, the school district will cover 100 percent of the cost.
Roziers has also worked with each school principal to create athletic training facilities and establish clear reporting relationships between the principal and the AT to ensure the athletes’ best medical interests are not compromised. As a former principal, coach and athletic director, Roziers is an advocate for safety and understands the importance of having the right personnel in place.
“NATA is pleased to recognize Larry Roziers and Pop Warner Little Scholars for their outstanding contributions and enduring commitment to the safety of young athletes,” said NATA President Scott Sailor, EdD, ATC, who presented the awards. “We are proud to honor them as some of the best in their field with the Youth Sports Safety Ambassador Awards.”
The Youth Sports Safety Summit was hosted by NATA and the Youth Sports Safety Alliance, comprising nearly 290 organizations committed to keeping young athletes safe. This year’s event was held in Indianapolis, and the theme was “Less Risk, More Reward: Emphasizing Safety and Encouraging Success.” Speakers addressed a variety of topics ranging from emergency health and safety best practices and same day return to play following concussion to insurance risks in sports.