SAFETY, SAFETY, SAFETY!!!!

Updated Wednesday February 27, 2019 by Jennifer Oswitt.

At Wachusett YFC, safety is our top priority.  Before we are coaches and board members and fans, we are parents who, like you, went through the process of determining whether youth football or cheerleading was right for our families.  While no sport is free of risk, Wachusett YFC is doing everything we can to make the experience as safe and enjoyable as possible for all of our athletes.  We firmly believe that the best way to encourage participation in our organization is to to guide parents to the latest in available information so that they can make their own independent and well-informed decision. We are proud of our safety efforts and encourage any questions you may have about football in general or our specific policies.

We advise each parent to do the following:

- Visit the USA Football website and read everything you can about Heads' Up Football.

- Go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website and review its concussion information sheets, as well as this CTE Fact Sheet from the Sport Neuropsychology Society.

- Ask current football and cheerleading families about their experieces with Wachusett YFC, focussing on our attention and focus on player safety at ALL times (practices, games, and off the field).

- Review recent studies, such as this University of Iowa study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Sports Medicine, finding that injury rates are actually higher in youth flag football than in youth tackle football, and concussion rates are not statistically different between the two; this 2017 JAMA Neurology study finding that there is no cognitive risk from playing football through the high school level, and that there is no difference in congntive and depressive outcomes between high school football players and those who did not play any sport at all; and this 2017 AOSSM study finding that USA Football Heads' Up training appears to be effective in reducing the number and severity of concussions in high school football players. 

- Read recent articles highlighting the comparative risk of flag football to tackle football, such as this February 13, 2017 Wall Street Journal article‚Äč or this article from Parents magazine.  Dr. Peter Cummings, a Boston University Neuropathologist and father of a youth football player, has an excellent blog discussing his perspective as an expert in head trauma and as a football father in assessing the safety of the game, and Dr. Donald Haas has written an excellent high-level review of current medical understanding of CTE and why he decided to allow his son to play football.

- Become familiar with the Massachusetts laws regarding concussion safety in extracurricular sports.  Head Injuries and Concussions, Sports Concussion Initiative, and Sports Related Concussions and Head Injuries

You may also be interested to know the following:

- Each year Wachusett YFC invests in its equipment and coaches to ensure that we have top-of-the-line equipment and that all of our coaches have been trained in the latest safety techniques. All of our helmets are reconditioned and recertified every two years throughout their useful life to ensure that they meet NOCSAE safety guidelines.

- We are affiliated with both American Youth Football and Cheer and USA Football, including Heads' Up Football.  All of our coaches and assistant football coaches are required to take and pass the USA Football level 1 coaching certification course each year.  We adhere to strict guidelines for limiting contact during practices.

- All of our coaches and assistant coaches are trained in health and safety, including heat preparedness and hydration.  Each team has atleast one CPR-certified coach on staff.

 If you find that you have additional questions, about our program or safety in general, please feel free to reach out to any coach or board member and we would be happy to discuss any lingering questions or concerns with you.