Heads Up for Philipstown Hawks Opening Day

60 coaches attend seminar focused on preventing player injuries

By Kathie Scanlon

A hot July Sunday afternoon is often passed poolside but July 27 brought about 60 adults to Memorial Park in Beacon to participate in a Heads Up Football Clinic hosted by the Mid Hudson Conference of Pop Warner Football. The conference is made up of 17 teams from surrounding counties.

Kristin Noschese Van Tassel, player safety coach for Philipstown Hawks, performs the SHOOT drill at the Heads Up Football Clinic.  (Photo provided)

Kristin Noschese Van Tassel, player safety coach for Philipstown Hawks, performs the SHOOT drill at the Heads Up Football Clinic.  (Photo provided)

Heads Up Football is a program designed by USA Football, the national governing body for youth football, to create positive change for the health and safety of young players.

Daniel Miller, president of the Hawks, joined nine coaches of the Philipstown Hawks and Player Safety Coach Kristin Van Tassel to drill in the hot sun in pursuit of Heads Up Football certification. All adults on the sidelines will be required by Pop Warner to be certified in Heads Up Football. Van Tassel had previously attended an all-day Heads Up training in Hartford, Connecticut, on June 21.

“Heads Up Football puts the Philipstown Hawks on the cutting edge of research about how to best keep players healthy, hydrated, and happy,” Miller said.

The clinic offered four stations which participants rotated through: equipment fitting, concussion recognition and awareness, heat and hydration and Heads Up tackling drills. Drills taught proper body mechanics to execute tackles safely.

Regarding practice of the drills, Van Tassel said, “As a parent of two boys who have a love of sports, one being football, and seeing all the recent heightened awareness of concussions and football in the media, I had a personal vested interest in learning more about keeping players safe.”

Pop Warner, a national organization for children ages 5-12, has seen a decline in participation in 2010 to 2012 of 9.5 percent in youth football although some speculate that the growing popularity of lacrosse indicates that fear of concussion is not the only factor in reduced numbers in youth football.

The Center for Disease Control designed Heads Up to educate on concussion recognition for all youth sports. The Heads Up Football program utilizes this information in its concussion awareness section.

An overview of the Heads Up Football program, available online at usafootball.com/headsup, is complete with demonstration videos that are also accessible to parents. The program offers clinics for parents to teach the same fundamentals that coaches have learned so that all have the education to cooperatively provide for improved safety. The Philipstown Hawks plan to present an informal parents’ clinic at the end of the first day of practice (6 to 8 p.m.) on Aug. 4, at Mayor’s Park.

Registration for Philipstown Hawks Football and Cheer is still open for girls and boys ages 5-12. For information and weight requirements, visit eteamz.com or contact Miller at [email protected].


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