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Coaches feeling effect of new law (04-24-13) PDF Print E-mail
Written by KEITH WELLS Sentinel Sports Writer   
Wednesday, 24 April 2013 10:52
Approximately four months removed from the passing of Ohio House Bill 143 involving concussions within youth sports, coaches and officials are beginning to feel the effects of the new law with Friday’s enactment date.
Youth sport coaches and officials are heavily involved in the new “Return to Play” law as they are now required to complete additional tasks in order to be eligible to coach or officiate.
Jerry Rutherford, Eastwood High School’s head football coach for over 30 years, approves of the new law and its requirements.
“I think it definitely increases the well being of our athletes.” Rutherford said. “I don’t think it (the law) hurts at all. It’s a free course online that you can do whenever you want and it brings up some things you obviously should consider so I think it’s a good deal.”
Not all youth sport coaches agree that this new law will be hassle-free.
Matt Kregel, Perrysburg High School’s head football coach, expressed his concern with having to complete additional tasks prior to the start of the new football season.
‘‘My stance is that I’m for anything that will keep the kids safe … but I think there’s going to be some red tape to it.” Kregel said. ‘‘A drawback to this is that it’s another thing for head coaches to have to go through before the season, which is not easy for the fact that we already have to become a certified coach and become certified in CPR/First Aid.
‘‘But I do think that it is a step in the right direction for making sure the kids are safe.”
As a requirement to be in compliance with the new law, officials and coaches alike are to complete the same concussion training before the start of their sports respective seasons.
“For officials, the embodiment of the concussion requirements into law is not a big change,” said Doug Krieger, a high school football official. “Over the past two years the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) has been sort of strengthening the requirements regarding concussion administration and how officials are supposed to deal with that … a lot of those things that were already in place as far as the parameters that were already set by the OHSAA were incorporated into the law.”
One of the major changes that the “Return to Play” law introduces to both coaches and officials is when the student-athlete can return to competition.
According to the law if an athlete is withdrawn from a contest by an official, coach, or athletic trainer due to the athlete displaying signs and symptoms of a concussion, that athlete is no longer able to return to the contest. The athlete must be cleared by a healthcare professional in order to return to play in future competition.
“For a lot of officials that removes some ambiguity,” said Krieger. “In my experience a player being sent back into the game after being pulled has never happened … coaches and team medical personnel have been very concerned about concussions as well and it has been a cooperative environment on all fronts in order to get kids medical care.”
Aside from the details and requirements of the new “Return to Play” law that coaches and officials need to comply with, the positive result is the continued health and safety of youth athletes.
“Overall this will be a positive experience because it is for the benefit of the game and the benefit of the athlete,” said Krieger.
‘‘It’s necessary … concussions are something that with some education and changing of the culture a little bit can be limited and make kids safer over the years,” said Kregel.
“The most important thing is the safety of, in our case 16- and 17-year-old guys, and I have no problem with that,” said Rutherford.

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