USA Football program aims to lesson impacts of youth concussions

It’s a violent game that makes a lot of parents uneasy, but numbers for Pee Wee football continue to grow in the Miami Valley.

Safety is a major concern for the estimated 15,000 kids who will suit up for teams around the Dayton area this fall. Concussions are a constant concern no matter if the athlete is 6 years old or 16. The idea is to teach the proper techniques at an early age.

That’s why several local coaches spent a morning recently at Beavercreek High School learning how to teach youngsters to play the game the right way and educating adults on keeping the players safe.

It’s part of a program called “Heads Up Football,” which was developed by USA Football to help lessen the impact of concussions.

“The most important thing is having a controlled environment for practice to get them ready for games,” said Pee Wee coach Darrin Roth. “That way they know how to tackle, they know how to fall and they know the proper form when it’s time time to go full speed.”

Roth is the player-safety coach for the Western Ohio Junior Football Conference. He admits the game at the youth level has changed in the last decade to reflect problems that could persist as players get older, faster, and stronger.

“The kids health is more important to me than winning,” he said. “I’m going to make sure that if that kid tells me he has a headache and he doesn’t feel good, he’s not playing again until he gets checked out by a doctor.”

The clinic also focused on providing the proper equipment and making sure a child doesn’t take the field with a helmet or shoulder pads that doesn’t fit.

“We have to make sure that players are comfortable in their gear and not afraid to hit,” Roth said. “Just because we’re wearing equipment doesn’t mean we’re invincible, but we’re trying to teach a new way of football and make sure the kids are safer and most important, having fun.”


Hartsock, Mike. “USA Football Program Aims to Lesson Impacts of Youth Concussions.” Dayton Daily News. DDN, 20 July 2016. Web. 28 July 2016.

Stoney Creek clinic helps coaches, parents spot concussion warning signs

Winning a game, a gold medal or even a world championship isn’t worth suffering a serious brain injury.

When it comes to concussions, science is taking the guesswork out of whether an athlete should sit or play after a head impact.

Kerry Pavlovic, a certified athletic therapist at the Bowen Medical Group in Stoney Creek, said advance preparation can help athletes, coaches and parents spot concussion symptoms before they become permanent.

“If you misdiagnose or ignore the signs of a concussion and continue playing, there is something called second impact syndrome, which means, then you’re getting further brain damage,” said Pavlovic.

On a second impact, athletes can be susceptible to rapid brain swelling or bleeding.

“Without the recognition that a concussion has occurred, you’re putting kids and athletes at serious risk of permanent damage,” said Pavlovic.

Luckily, Pavlovic and her colleagues at Bowen have developed a baseline concussion testing program. The program, delivered through an in-person seminar, puts athletes through a series of memory and cognitive tests, before they suffer concussion-like symptoms.

Once a head injury occurs, a physiotherapist then re-tests the athlete, either the same day or the next day, and continually re-tests the athlete to determine how his or her scores compare.

A baseline concussion test takes about 20 to 30 minutes and can include reciting the names of the months backwards or completing a balance test. The objective is merely to determine a baseline reading.

Bowen athletic therapists deliver their seminars by attending team practices and league events, and also through in-clinic sessions. After completing the baseline tests, results can be shared with coaches, parents and health care professionals to better judge whether athletes have sustained a concussion.

Bowen has so far partnered or agreed to provide baseline concussion testing for the Stoney Creek Girls Hockey Association, the Ontario Boxing Association and the Hamilton Basketball Association.

As Bowen physiotherapist and clinic partner Christina Marie Dzieduszycki explained, a concussion doesn’t just occur from a blow to the head.

“It can be from a turn or a twist or a whiplash mechanism, so a lot of times people ignore those types of causes,” she said.

While there is no definitive medical diagnosis for a concussion, a patient may feel dizzy, nauseous, confused or disoriented. More severe warning signs include sensitivity to light or sound and balance problems.

“Each kind of concussion affects an athlete in a different way. A lot of it depends on your injury history, your age, your sex. You don’t really know,” said Pavlovic.

“The big impact of this is that most of the athletes who get concussions want to go back and play right away,” said Dzieduszycki. “That’s why it’s really important for players, coaches and parents to recognize that, okay, maybe we need to take the baseline that we did and see where you are right now.”

While there is no way to completely prevent concussions in any contact sport, Pavlovic said about 85 per cent of athletes can return to action a few days to a few weeks after being concussed.

For more information, contact Bowen Medical Group at 905-560-2300.

Pearson, Mike. “Stoney Creek Clinic Helps Coaches, Parents Spot Concussion Warning Signs.” Hamilton News. Hamilton News, 13 July 2016. Web. 13 July 2016.

Local football coaches get up to speed on safety in USA Heads Up Football Clinic

PROVO – Never mind the fact that the majority of American Fork High School’s football coaching staff was out of town, assistant football coach Rob McMurray was the perfect choice to attend the USA Heads Up Football Clinic on Saturday at Provo High School.

McMurray was a paramedic for seven years and has been with American Fork’s coaching staff since 2006 in different capacities. He’s currently the director of football operations and offensive line coach. Since 2014, he’s been focused closely with equipment, health and safety.

A perfect fit for camp that is centered on improving player safety.

“Coach (Aaron Beam) thought it would be a good idea for me to be here so I could cycle it down to the other coaches. We want to make sure we’re not missing the boat on something. We want to stay as current as we can with the game so we can make sure we protect the kids,” McMurray said. “I go out of my way to make sure we have complete hydration, electrolyte hydration, ice baths and first aid on the sideline. Our trainer can’t start until Aug. 1, so between that time, I’m there to help facilitate that and to make sure they’re monitored for concussions and injuries.”

Greg Miller, a USA Heads UP Football Master Trainer, used a classroom setting to instruct the 16 coaches, who attended the clinic.

“We do hundreds of these camps around the country,” Miller said. “We focus on the education of coaches and players in the Heads Up Football fundamentals. We cover proper tackling and blocking fundamentals, how to recognize and respond to concussions, equipment fitting and things like how to deal with heat and hydration.”

USA Football’s Heads Up Football program is endorsed by the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and more than four dozen other leading organizations spanning medicine and sport. Heads Up Football features a pair of online curriculums: one for high school coaches and another for youth coaches.

The recent emphasis on player safety has helped the organization gain momentum at a rapid pace.

Approximately 6,500 youth leagues in all 50 states registered in 2015 and it has enough recent data to suggest that its methods are working.

Since Fairfax County, Virginia, decided to participate, football injuries have gone down 16 percent and concussions have dropped by 28 percent across the district’s 25 high school football programs.

Last year in South Bend, Indiana, the fourth largest school district in the state joined the organization and saw the number of concussions drop by 40 percent. Overall, more than 1,200 high schools came on board in 2015.

There has also been tremendous support from youth football leagues.

Barrett Love was one of the youth coaches in attendance on Saturday. He started coaching his son about five years ago and is on the board of the Westlake Football League.

“We require all of the head coaches in our league (Heads Up training) so every team has the proper training,” Love said. “I’m here to renew my certification and to see if they have anything new their teaching.”

Coaches on every football team are constantly trying to implement schemes and techniques to improve their statistics on offense and defense. Now many of them are armed with the knowledge of one vital statistic – lowering injuries.

Warner, Neil. “Local Football Coaches Get up to Speed on Safety in USA Heads Up Football Clinic.” Daily Herald. Daily Herald, 10 July 2016. Web. 11 July 2016.

Coaches target safety in youth football

Clinic promotes proper blocking and tackling techniques in order to prevent concussions


Football has been sacked the past few years because of the growing concern about concussions and injuries.

So, a group of 40 youth football coaches huddled up at the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse at UCHealth Training Center, near Centennial, on June 25 for the USA Football Heads Up Football Player Safety Coaches Clinic.

“The game is under attack, especially at the youth level,” said Steve Shore, a coach for the Englewood Pirates in the Jeffco Midget Football Association. “The injuries are a concern of the parents and is the game worth it compared to the injury level?

“This clinic is crucial because to save the game, we have to come up with better ways to coach these kids and keep them safer.”

Greg Miller, a Northglenn High school graduate, assistant varsity football coach at Legacy and USA Football master trainer, conducted the four-hour clinic.

The topics discussed were concussion recognition and response and proper helmet and shoulder pad fitting. Videos were available to reinforce proper tackling and blocking mechanics, focusing on reduced helmet contact.

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the chances of a youth football athlete suffering a concussion over the course of one season are 75 percent. And 62 percent of the major impacts in youth football occur during practice and not in games.

In March, USA Football released the results of a study conducted by the Physical Activity Council for participation of athletes between the ages of 6 and 14.

There was an increase of 1.9 percent from 2,128 million participants in 2014 to 2,169 million in 2015. But there has been a drop in participation from 3 million in 2010, according to the USA Football study.

Miller has seen a change in blocking and tackling techniques because of the increased attention on injuries.

“It absolutely has to start at the youth level,” he said. “It’s great to see it spreading to the upper level of college and pros, but to really get a chance we have to start at the youth level. We really need to teach better fundamentals for tackling and blocking.

“It has changed for the better. There is more awareness about injuries. It was something that was there years and years ago but we just weren’t as aware of it as we are today…”

Changing improper tackling and blocking basics for some players, especially more experienced ones, can be a challenge.

“It’s not that it easy to change,” Miller said. ”You have to be aware of the change that needs to happen. When coaches see a player that maybe doesn’t have the proper fundamentals, we have to be aware of that and really work with that player.”


Benton, Jim. “Coaches Target Safety in Youth Football – Colorado Community Media.” Colorado Community Media. HRH, 30 June 2016. Web. 06 July 2016.

Section III Athletics endorses Heads Up Football safety program

Section III Athletics endorses Heads Up Football safety program

Heads Up Football is a comprehensive program developed by USA Football to advance player safety in the game of football

Section III Athletics is tackling the ever-present issues of sports concussions and player safety. Beginning this summer, the organization – along with the New York State Public High School Athletic Association and the State Football Committee – is endorsing USA Football’s “Heads Up Football” program.

“Section III is recommending that all varsity coaches (including assistant coaches) complete the Heads Up Football® High School Coach Certification program, which consist of four courses found on (Concussion in Sports, Heat Illness Prevention, Sudden Cardiac Arrest and Equipment Fitting/Blocking/Tackling),” according to a press release.

After completion of all four courses, each coach will receive $1 million in general liability insurance from USA Football.

Heads Up Football® is a “comprehensive program developed by USA Football to advance player safety in the game of football”, the press release said.

The Section III Football Committee recently hosted a pair of in-person trainings for one coach per school to attend the Heads Up Football® PSC Clinic conducted by master trainers. The first training, led by Ken Stoldt, was held on June 21 at East Syracuse-Minoa High School, while the second event was on Tuesday at Sauquoit Valley High School and led by Matt Gallagher.

Officials from Section III met with USA Football in May to learn more about the program and later began setting up for the trainings.

“Roughly 75% of the schools were able to make it. We met with USA Football about a month and a half ago to get (the trainings) organized. … To get everything lined up to do it, we wanted as many people here as we could,” Section III Football co-coordinator Keith Kempney said. “We were very pleased with the high numbers that we had with the short notice.”

Officials from Section III Athletics had previously discussed the advantages offered from USA Football with coaches from Section IV and Section VI, leading to their endorsement of the organization.

“We determined it was better and safer to use these techniques that they practice. It was better and safer, so it’s a win-win,” Kempney said. “It’s not mandated by the state at this time. Section III definitely endorses it, they support it. It’s not mandated, but we’re kind of hoping that the state might come up with mandates, though that’s for down the road. For now, we’ve had tremendous response and feedback from the coaches thus far.”

The released added, “Section III believes that our number one priority is the safety of our student-athletes. Heads Up Football High School helps prioritize the health and safety of our players by offering proper tools and resources that help provide a safer experience for our athletes.”

Section III Athletics Executive Director John Rathburn said the joint efforts with USA Football are vital to the safety of the players.

“I strongly believe that coaching certification is critically important for the safety of the game, and what USA Football teaches us can only enhance the educational training that all of our coaches already have,” Rathburn said. “Let’s give them a place to go where they can learn the game, and parents can have the confidence that our coach have received the proper certification.”

Barbosa, Victor. “Section III Athletics Endorses Heads Up Football Safety Program.”, 29 June 2016. Web. 30 June 2016.

Safeguarding Young Athletes From Concussions

When Erick Goble of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, then 8, whacked the back of his head on the ice during a hockey game, he complained of a headache and was benched for the rest of the game. Afterward he claimed he was fine, and he played in another game the next day. But his headache persisted, so his worried parents whisked him to the pediatrician, who diagnosed a mild concussion. The doctor’s orders included staying home from school for a day and laying off all intellectual activity, including homework, electronics, TV and reading, for a week. Erick also sat out gym, recess and hockey practice.

All seems well two years later, and Erick now plays competitive travel hockey. However, Rita Colorito, his mom, says that as the kids become bigger and more aggressive, she’s taking all head bumps much more seriously. Indeed, concern about the long-term effects of concussion is rampant these days in the wake of revelations that pro football players have suffered permanent brain damage from the abuse they took during their playing years. And it’s increasingly clear that the risk of worrisome head injury is not limited to the most serious athletes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that more than 170,000 children and teenagers go to the emergency room every year for sports-related brain injuries – and that’s a small fraction of the kids who hit their heads during practices and games.

While most kids recover from concussions within a few weeks, a few struggle with the aftereffects for months or years. They can include headache, dizziness, fatigue, irritability, anxiety, and problems with concentration and memory. To lower the risk, Practice Like Pros, an anti-concussion group endorsed by several NFL coaches, advocates flag football only for younger players, and very limited full-contact practices in high school. The U.S. Soccer Federation changed its rules late last year to prohibit “heading” the ball by players 10 and under, and to reduce headers in practice for players between ages 11 and 13. Early this year, the coaches of the Ivy League voted to eliminate full-contact hitting from regular season football practices, and also to explore ways to reduce hits to the head in hockey, soccer and lacrosse.

It’s easy to see the danger of concussion – which is caused by a rapid acceleration of the head that causes the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull – in football and soccer, where head impacts have long been part of the game. But any sport, from swimming to cheerleading, can pose some risk. “Being a flyer in cheer is more dangerous than playing football,” says Dr. Robert Cantu, co-founder and medical director of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, a Boston-based not-for-profit dedicated to raising awareness of the dangers. There doesn’t even have to be a blow to the head: A youngster can give his brain a severe jolt just by slamming into a goal post with his chest and shoulder.

With new urgency to understand the cumulative effects, scientists are studying sports-related head impacts on several fronts. “We don’t know a lot of the answers, and we’re learning on the go,” says Dr. Dennis Cardone, co-director of the Concussion Center at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York. He says the unanswered questions are many: for example, whether there’s a maximum number of concussions that is “safe,” and to what extent “subclinical” hits – impacts that fall short of concussion – may cause permanent damage. Sensors in the helmets of football players reveal hundreds of hits in people who have never been diagnosed with a concussion, Cardone says. “If you add it all up over a lifetime,” he says, these players might be at “a big risk for long-term consequences.”

The National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Department of Defense have begun enrolling thousands of college athletes for a three-year study of concussion and its aftereffects. The National Institutes of Health is underwriting a two-year study of 400 adult amateur soccer players who have been playing since their youth. While results are not yet available, an earlier pilot study by the same researchers found brain abnormalities and cognitive problems in amateur soccer players who frequently headed the ball, even when they had no history of concussion.

“It’s remarkable how common it is for players to have concussive symptoms related to heading that they don’t recognize or acknowledge as concussion,” says Dr. Michael Lipton, a neuroradiologist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York and lead investigator of the NIH study. “Things like disorientation, dizziness, balance problems and nausea are not at all rare in people who just keep playing.”

Colorito says the cumulative effects of lots of small concussions concern her just as much as the danger of one big one. Erick, now 11, can’t wait until he turns 12 and is allowed to “check,” or actively disrupt the opponent’s possession of the puck. “Some kids drop the sport when checking starts, but Erick’s looking forward to it,” Colorito says. Because checking increases the risk of injury, his league’s governing organization requires players to complete a checking clinic to learn safe techniques. Erick’s coaches take a seminar every fall on concussion assessment, and Colorito says they benched Erick recently when he was knocked down and then failed a quick short-term memory test. “He remembered the words they asked him to repeat an hour later, but the coach still kept him out, which we appreciated.”

Besides trying to make sure their kids play for enlightened coaches and keeping an eagle eye on injured players, what should parents know in order to keep their children safe?

First, while most kids survive a first concussion unscathed, the second one could be another story. “Long-term problems related to head injury in general are due to or exacerbated by multiple injuries,” Lipton says.

When children do get injured, it’s important to assess them carefully before sending them back into the game. “‘Second impact’ is a real phenomenon, when a football player takes a big hit, is concussed, sort of recovers and then doesn’t get up when he’s tackled,” says Dr. Yvonne Lui, chief of neuroradiology at Langone, whose research has shown changes in the brain up to a year after a concussion. “Those players can develop dramatic and life-threatening brain edema.”

Second, some people are more vulnerable to serious aftereffects, especially those with conditions like depression, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, migraines or learning disabilities. “If you have a brain challenge and then put a brain injury on top of it, the underlying challenge can become much worse,” Cantu says. He recommends that parents of kids with any type of neuropsychological issue steer them away from activities associated with head injuries.

And finally, bear in mind that “the worst take-home message” is that you should avoid sports out of fear of concussion, Cardone says. “We should still be promoting sports and physical activity.”


Gardner, Elizabeth. “Safeguarding Young Athletes From Concussions.” US News. U.S.News & World Report, 28 June 2016. Web. 28 June 2016.

Youth football coaches talk concussions, player safety

LAMBEAU FIELD (WBAY) – Youth football coaches spent Saturday reviewing safety techniques at Lambeau Field.

“These are kids. We have to protect their lives first and foremost,” said Mike Walters, a coach for Catholic Youth Football Club in Milwaukee.

USA Football, the sport’s national governing body, holds hundreds of training sessions every year educating coaches and parents about keeping kids safe on the football field.

Saturday, coaches went over how to properly fit a helmet and shoulder pads.

Also concussions were a big talking point because it has become such a concern for parents in recent years.

“We have made a strong emphasis on youth and high school of keeping the head out of the game. Keep the head out of contact. Don’t lead with the head. Don’t lead with your face mask. Use your hands,” said David Keel, a master trainer for USA Football.

Coaches learned the signs of a concussion and adopted the mindset of “When it doubt, sit them out.”

The more they learn, the more information they can pass onto parents.

“Anytime you can educate the public of what is going on whether it’s practice plans, whether it’s how much time you practice, heads up football, keeping the head out of the play that type of stuff, mom knows it, dad knows it, grandpa knows it, little brother knows it, its going to make a difference in the safety of the game,” said Bobby Diaz, a player safety coach.

These coaches want football to be around in the decades to come, so they say safety is the bottom line.

“We want our sport to continue to grow in popularity as it has and to become safer and better for all participants,” said Keel.

For more information on USA Football and their “Heads Up” football program, click here:

McCardle, Ellery. “Youth Football Coaches Talk Concussions, Player Safety.” WBAY. WBAY, 25 June 2016. Web. 27 June 2016.


AIG ends insurancy policy against head injuries with NFL

AIG wants the benefits of football without the risks.

The New York insurance giant has stopped insuring NFL players against head injuries as the dangers of concussions became apparent even though it continues to play up its ties to the game, The Post has learned.

“They exclude coverage for head injuries,” said a source familiar with the insurer’s policies.

AIG also stopped insuring the nation’s largest youth football league, Pop Warner, a few years ago as the NFL’s concussion crisis trickled down to the high school level and even younger.

At the same time, AIG, led by Chief Executive Peter Hancock, is a big backer of USA Football, a nonprofit group started by the NFL that seeks to blunt the toll concussion fears have had on youth football.

The insurer is one of the chief sponsors of USA Football’s 2016 Protection Tour for 7- to 14-year-old players. The tour travels across the country teaching kids tackling techniques and proper helmet fit, among other safety issues. The one-day camp comes to MetLife Stadium on Aug. 14.

While USA Football aims to cut down on head-related injuries, it also works to send the message that kids can be taught to play the game safely as more parents balk at the notion.

“My initial thought is that this is very misleading. It’s false advertising,” said Kimberly Archie, a risk management expert who specializes in sports injury litigation. “You are putting your name on something you will not insure.”

AIG declined to comment.

K&K Insurance, part of rival insurance giant Aon, replaced AIG as Pop Warner’s insurer a few years ago.

K&K, which covers every player up to $1 million and, depending on the chapter, up to $2 million, has not carved out an exception for head injuries.

“K&K Insurance is known as a trusted source for commercial liability insurance coverage for amateur sports teams, leagues, associations, tournaments, camps and facilities, and as such, our intent is to continue offering protection, within our participant legal liability coverage, that will respond to claims alleging brain injuries (including concussions) sustained by players in specified sports.

“There is currently a great deal of inconsistency from insurance carrier to carrier on how concussion coverage may be offered or if it is excluded entirely,” it added.

AIG is among the dozens of insurers suing the NFL to avoid paying more than $1 billion in costs for concussion-related lawsuits.

The dispute is tied to the settlement between the NFL and thousands of retired players who said the league hid from them the dangers of repeated head hits. Players stand to receive up to $5 million apiece.

The insurers suing in New York State Supreme Court argue that they should get out of paying because the league covered up the dangers.

“This case is about whether concussions are covered under policies,” said a source close to the case.

While AIG is cutting its exposure to concussion-related lawsuits by carving out head injuries, it still issues NFL policies that cover non-brain-related injuries. The NFL declined to comment.


Kosman, Josh. “AIG Ends Insurance Policy against Head Injuries with NFL.” New York Post. New York Post, 12 June 2016. Web. 13 June 2016.

Library to host Youth Sports health lecture next week



The Brentwood Library is hosting a program on youth sports and staying healthy next week, with experienced health professionals leading the discussion.

Chuck Schumacher and Dr. Parnell Donahue will lead the talk, with a focus on exercise in hot weather, hydration and heat illness, concussions, positive benefits of exercise and fitness, parent’s roles in encouragement and coaching and nutrition, including alcohol and drug abuse.

Schumacher is an American karate and baseball instructor, whose longtime training in martial arts has resulted in an expert understanding of movements of the body and discipline of the mind. He has become known for his ability to work with young athletes to achieve skill and develop character.

The mainstay of Schumacher’s teaching and writing has been to educate parents and coaches to play their role correctly so kids can enjoy the process of skill development while learning life lessons. He is the author of ‘How to Play Baseball: A Parent’s Role in Their Child’s Journey.’

Donahue was named the 2014 Senior Pediatrician of the Year by the Tennessee Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. His current books include a parenting teenagers book called ‘Messenger in Denim, The Amazing Things Parents Can Learn from Teens,’ and a general parenting book called ‘Tools for Effective Parenting.’ Other books include ‘Germs Make Me Sick’ and ‘Sports Doc.’

Their event will take place on Thursday, June 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the Brentwood Library, located at 8109 Concord Road. It will last for an hour and take place in Meeting Room B. Registration is required by clicking here.


Hearn, Samantha. “Library to Host Youth Sports Health Lecture next Week.” Brentwood Home Page. Brentwood Home Page, 31 May 2016. Web. 02 June 2016.

Update on Carmel youth baseball player who suffered near-fatal hit

CPR training of coaches and parents and defibrillators stationed at the park’s concession stands saved his life.

The 13-year-old Carmel baseball player whose heart stopped after he was struck in the chest by a ball recently is home, itching to play baseball again.

His dad updated IndyStar Tuesday about his son’s miraculous recovery, which he credited to the quick work of coaches and parents at Grand Park in Westfield — and a defibrillator pulled from the concession stand at the park.

“Without that, it probably would have been a totally different result,” said his dad, who was put in touch with IndyStar by his son’s Carmel Hounds coach, Paul Wright. The boy’s father asked that he and his son not be named because he doesn’t want the youth to be overwhelmed by attention.

The father of the boy said he was at work May 22 when his son, playing second base for a 13U travel team that is part of the Carmel Dads’ Club, was hit in the chest by a throw from his catcher that he didn’t see.

“It’s kind of the phone call from hell,” said his dad, “that no parent ever wants to get.”

The ball hit in exactly the wrong place at the wrong time and caused the boy’s heart to stop. That he will suffer no permanent damage, brain or otherwise, is a miracle.

His dad said the family is forever grateful to all who rushed to his son’s side, getting involved in a “scary situation.”

Doctors have told the boy that he will make a full recovery and, within three weeks, can be back out on the field playing.

And he’s antsy to do just that.

“Oh, he would get back out there today if he could,” his dad said.

Original story published May 26:

The baseball hit with a thud to his lower chest, right by his heart.

The second baseman for the Carmel Hounds youth travel team — who didn’t see the catcher’s throw coming his way — collapsed on the field Sunday at Grand Park in Westfield.

As he lay motionless on the ground, his skin turning gray, coaches and parents rushed to help, administering CPR.

But the 13-year-old boy didn’t have a pulse. He wasn’t responding.

And then came the tool that ultimately saved his life: an automatic external defibrillator pulled from the concession stand.

An AED, which restores a regular heart rhythm during sudden cardiac arrest, is rarely found at a baseball field. Most youth leagues — travel, recreational or sanctioned Little League — don’t require them.

Little League Baseball and Softball, with about 2.5 million kids playing each year, recommends that local leagues have AEDs but doesn’t mandate that they do. The reason, according to the league, is cost.

Small, lower-income programs may not be able to afford a defibrillator, which on average costs about $2,000, according to the American Heart Association.

At Grand Park, a 400-acre sports complex with dozens of athletic fields, including 26 baseball fields, AEDs are stationed inside all concession stands and buildings, said Michelle Krcmery, marketing manager.

There are at least seven permanent defibrillators at the park, a decision that was made “in order to be prepared for an incident such as this,” she said, adding that the park’s safety protocols were written by the medical director at Westfield Fire Department, who is also a trauma physician.

“Youth sports embodies family, fun, healthy competitiveness and teamwork, so when a player is injured it is troubling to everyone involved, including the organization,” Krcmery said in an email to IndyStar. “As a continued measure, we are reviewing our public safety procedures as we speak to make sure we are always best equipped for an emergency.”

Baseball has a reputation as a nonviolent, low-impact sport, and, for the most part, it is.

Though there is no organization that tracks deaths in youth baseball leagues, a limited study commissioned by USA Baseball between 1989 and 2010 found that 18 children younger than high school age died of baseball injuries. Most of those happened when a pitcher or batter was hit in the head by a ball.

The other deaths occurred when a high-speed ball hit a player in the chest, causing sudden cardiac arrest.

That’s what those at the game Sunday think happened in Westfield during the tournament. Scott Foppe, the coach of the opposing Rawlings Tigers from Ballwin, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis, was among three adults who administered CPR to the Carmel boy.

Foppe said he didn’t really want to talk about the incident. The story should be about the boy, his condition, his fight to live and not about a few adults who did what any adult would do, he said.

But Foppe did say one thing on the record.

“I think people should get the training,” he said, “especially coaches — high school, college, youth — you should all have the training in CPR.”

And there should, without question, be defibrillators stationed at every youth baseball field in America.

The Carmel player, whose name is not being released because of privacy issues, was on second base Sunday. The game was in the third inning when a Tigers player tried to steal second and the Carmel boy didn’t see the catcher’s throw.

After paramedics arrived, he was taken to St. Vincent in Carmel and was in the intensive care unit as of Sunday night. His condition as of Tuesday evening was not known.

Carmel Hounds coach Paul Wright, responding to an email from IndyStar, declined comment and referred the reporter to the Carmel Dads’ Club Travel Baseball, the league the Hounds play in.

An email to David Cutsinger, commissioner of Carmel Dads’ Club, and Jack Beery, president, was not immediately returned.

This isn’t the first time a serious youth baseball incident has happened in Indiana.

Dylan Williams, an 8-year-old boy from Union City, died in July 2013 when he was struck in the neck by a baseball. His death spurred a nonprofit to donate eight defibrillators to the area about 75 miles northeast of Indianapolis.

The Union City Baseball Boosters organization now requires all coaches to receive training in CPR and on how to use AEDs. One defibrillator was placed with Dylan’s family so they could always help should an incident arise similar to what happened to their son. Another was put at the baseball diamonds where he was killed.

All athletes, no matter the sport, should be within four minutes of an AED and someone trained to use it, according to the American Red Cross. In fact, the organization says all Americans should be that close to one, athlete or not. Improved training and access to AEDs could save 50,000 lives each year, Red Cross says.

Momentum for AEDs in youth baseball is growing nationwide and in at least one league in Indianapolis. Broad Ripple Haverford Little League recently acquired two defibrillators for use at its games. The devices will be kept at the concession stands at its two fields.

Earlier this month, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a law that requires all baseball fields on city-owned land to have a defibrillator onsite during youth games. The bill was sponsored by city councilman Steven Matteo, a youth baseball coach, who said at the time the law would “save lives.”

The defibrillators and training on how to use them will be paid for by the city.

Westfield, too, pays for Grand Park training. All staff and support staff at the park are trained on CPR and using the defibrillators.

“In this case, we are extremely grateful for the quick reaction of the parents and the first responder, a Westfield police officer,” said Krcmery, “as they both contributed to saving this player’s life.”


Benbow, Dana. “Update on Carmel Youth Baseball Player Who Suffered Near-fatal Hit.” Indy Star. IndyStar, 31 May 2016. Web. 07 June 2016.