Florida Hospital Is Helping to Advance Student-Athlete Safety in Pasco County Schools through USA Football's Heads Up Football® Program

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In a commitment to student-athlete health, Florida Hospital will fund Pasco County Schools’ 13 high schools to enroll in USA Football’s Heads Up Football® program for better and safer play this season.

Nothing comes before the health and safety of our student-athletes. We thank Florida Hospital for helping us advance this priority.

Heads Up Football is a comprehensive approach to teach and play the No. 1 participatory sport of U.S. high school boys.

Supported by the American College of Sports Medicine, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, Heads Up Football teaches tackling and blocking techniques designed to reduce helmet contact. It also addresses all-sport-relevant topics with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concussion recognition and response; sudden cardiac arrest protocols; hydration and heat preparedness; and instruction on proper helmet and shoulder pad fitting.

On July 22, Pasco County High Schools representing 800 football-playing student-athletes, will participate in a USA Football Player Safety Coach training session at Charles S. Rushe Middle School, 18654 Mentmore Blvd., in Land O’ Lakes. As part of the program, each of Pasco County Schools’ 13 high schools will designate one coach from its staff to serve as its Player Safety Coach (PSC), who will be trained by USA Football.

PSCs guide, direct and monitor their high school’s Heads Up Football implementation as well as lead in-person training for fellow coaches, parents and players.

All coaches will complete the Heads Up Football High School training course developed by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and USA Football.

The course is made available to all U.S. high school football coaches at http://www.NFHSLearn.com. USA Football, the sport’s national governing body, trains more high school and youth football coaches combined than any organization in the country.

According to the NFHS, more than 1.12 million boys played high school football in 2013-14, outnumbering the combined participation figure for the second- and third-most popular boys sports combined.

Florida Hospital and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are partners focused on improving the health and wellness of Tampa Bay, committed to making a difference in our region through health education and community-based wellness initiatives. USA Football is the official football development partner of the Buccaneers.

“Nothing comes before the health and safety of our student-athletes and we thank Florida Hospital for helping us advance this priority,” Pasco County Superintendent of Schools Kurt Browning said. “Pasco County Schools is proud to bring the highest standards of athlete safety and coaching education within our high school football programs, which for generations have continued to contribute mightily to our students’ academic performance, physical health and social well-being.”

“The emphasis of the partnership between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Florida Hospital is to improve the health and wellness of the Tampa Bay community. As we prepare for the 2015 Florida high school football season, jointly providing Heads Up Football training to area coaches is a great way to assist in meeting that goal,” said Dr. Barbara Morris, Director of Sports Medicine & Performance, Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel.

Nearly 1,000 high schools spanning 44 states signed up for USA Football’s Heads Up Football program in 2014.

USA Football’s Heads Up Football program includes the following components:

Coaching education—Coaches successfully complete online training through the NFHS-USA Football High School Heads Up Football course at NFHSLearn.com, covering football fundamentals and all-sport-relevant topics of concussion recognition and response, sudden cardiac arrest protocols and hydration and heat preparedness.

Concussion recognition and response—Coaches gain in-person instruction and are assessed on CDC concussion recognition and response.    Coaches, parents and players are taught concussion-related protocols at the start of the season.

Equipment fitting—Coaches, parents and players are taught proper helmet and shoulder pad fitting.

Heads Up Blocking and Tackling—Series of fundamental drills reinforce tackling and blocking mechanics, teaching players how to perform these basic football skills with a focus on reducing helmet contact.

Sudden cardiac arrest—Instruction on how to have plans and procedures in place to quickly react in the case of cardiac events, the No. 1 cause of death among young athletes during exercise.

Heat and hydration—Coaches, parents and players learn heat and hydration safety measures provided by the Korey Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut.

Player Safety Coach—Appointed by each high school, this individual ensures that High School Heads Up Football principles and protocols are properly taught and applied within a program.

The leaders across medicine and sport who support USA Football’s Heads Up Football program include: Amateur Athletic Union, Korey Stringer Institute at the U. of Conn., Nat’l Interscholastic Athletic Admin. Assoc.
American College of Sports Medicine, Md. Public Secondary Schools Ath. Association, National Parent Teacher Assoc. (PTA)

American Football Coaches Association    
Maxwell Football Club
National Police Athletic League
American Medical Society for Sports Med.
Michigan H.S. Football Coaches Assoc.    
North Carolina Coaches Association
Arizona Interscholastic Association
Minnesota Football Coaches Assoc.    
Northern Va. Football Coaches Assoc.
Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)    
National Association of Sports Officials    
Pac-12 Conference
Big 12 Conference
National Athletic Trainers Association
Pop Warner Little Scholars
Big Ten Conference    
NATA Research & Ed. Foundation
Pro Football Athletic Trainers Society
Boys and Girls Clubs of America
National Fed. of State High School Assoc.
Southeastern Conference (SEC)
Conference USA
National Football League    
Sport Safety International
NFL Alumni Association
Sports & Fitness Industry Association
Indiana Football Coaches Association
NFL Head, Neck & Spine Committee
United Youth Football League

About Florida Hospital West Florida Region
The Florida Hospital West Florida Region is a not-for-profit 1,257-bed hospital system composed of 9 hospitals including Florida Hospital Tampa/Florida Hospital Pepin Heart Institute, Florida Hospital Carrollwood, Florida Hospital at Connerton Long Term Acute Care, Florida Hospital Zephyrhills, Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel, Florida Hospital North Pinellas, Florida Hospital Heartland Medical Center Sebring, Florida Hospital Heartland Medical Center Lake Placid and Florida Hospital Wauchula. Part of the Adventist Health System, Florida Hospital is a leading health network comprised of 23 hospitals throughout the state. For more information, visit http://www.FloridaHospital.com.

About Pasco County Schools:
Pasco County Schools is the 10th largest school district in Florida and the 50th largest in the United States, with approximately 72,000 students. With nearly 10,000 employees, the district is the largest employer in Pasco County. There are 46 traditional elementary schools, one magnet elementary school, 16 middle schools, 13 high schools, one virtual school, three education centers, and 10 charter schools. Healthiest Employers, the leader in employee health analytics, best practices and benchmark data, named Pasco County Schools one of the 2014 Healthiest 100 Workplaces in America. The district also won the Platinum Fit-Friendly Worksite Award from the American Heart Association in 2014.

About USA Football
Indianapolis-based USA Football (http://www.usafootball.com) is the sport’s national governing body, leading the game’s development for youth, high school and other amateur players. The independent nonprofit partners with leaders in medicine, child advocacy and sport to establish important standards rooted in education. USA Football advances coaching education and player skill development for safer play and positive experiences through athletics. Follow USA Football at http://www.facebook.com/usafootball or on Twitter @USAFootball.

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Jennifer McVan, Director of Media Relations

Amy Lipovetsky, Program Coordinator of Athletics