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Oregon Mandates Safer High School Football

The announced it will now require coaches to enroll in USA Football's Heads Up Football program in 2016. The program aims to reduce injuries to high school athletes.

"The OSAA executive board reviewed the Heads Up Football certification program and found it to be a very comprehensive and effective tool in helping … minimize risk for those kids that are participating within the sport," said Brad Garrett, an OSAA spokesman.

Garrett said the mandatory program educates coaches on many aspects of safety, including concussion recognition, equipment fitting, blocking and tackling, heat exhaustion and emergency response.

Every school in Oregon will select a player safety coach from their football coaching staff. That person will attend an annual "player safety coach clinic" that reinforces the principles of Heads Up Football. Garrett referred to it as a "train the trainer program."

The safety coach will be responsible for implementing the program at their school, as well as educating staff, players and parents about it.

Schools can start the program this fall, but it won't be mandatory until the 2016 season.

Terry Summerfield, a master trainer for the Heads Up Football program and a football coach at Barlow High School, said got involved with the program about two and half years ago because he was worried about dangers in the sport.

"Seeing kids get hit in a very aggressive and violent way, I was concerned about that," Summerfield said.

He also said OSAA mandating the program is a step in the right direction because the dangers of the game were keeping some kids from playing the sport.

"I didn't want to lose the game of football," Summerfield said.

Copyright 2015 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Courtney Christy