The Seattle Seahawks and USA Football, the official youth league development partner of the NFL, are leading the charge in Washington to create a better, smarter and safer way to play the game for participants at every level.
On March 16, youth football commissioners from across the state gathered at the USA Football Washington Youth Leadership Forum, hosted by the Seahawks at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton.
Alongside representatives of USA Football and the Seahawks, youth league commissioners discussed best practices and innovations to improve coaching techniques and change the culture of the game.
USA Football regional manager Bassel Faltas led the discussion and focused on several important aspects of youth football, including concussion recognition and response, coaching education, equipment fitting and tackling technique.
These issues form the basis of USA Football’s new Heads Up Football program, a comprehensive approach to improving player safety that is now available for youth leagues throughout the country for the 2013 season.
“The new USA Football Heads Up Football program provides a well-defined process that ensures league administrators, coaches, parents and players all understand how to keep the game we love safe and strong,” said John Hillock, president of the Issaquah Eagles of the Greater Eastside Junior Football League in Bellevue. “Our club will be implementing the program this season, and we will be encouraging all of the clubs in our league to join as well.”
Erika Freitas of the Northwest Junior Football League added: “I love Heads Up Football. I’m a big supporter on that. The program, with its new Player Safety Coach, will hold everyone accountable and be a big help.”
Forum attendees appreciate the NFL’s involvement in the initiative and felt encouraged by the level of support from the Seahawks.
“The NFL perspective interjected into our discussions by Paul Johns (Seahawks fan development assistant director) was extremely positive and supportive of the goals we’re all trying to achieve through youth football,” Hillock said.
Other forum highlights included guest speakers from Riddell, the official helmet of the NFL and a USA Football partner, along with an open, constructive discussion between fellow commissioners.
“I like having the forum with leagues that aren’t associated with ours,” Freitas said. “It gives us good ideas we haven’t thought of before and lets us know who else is on board across the state. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel (to improve player safety). There are so many valuable resources available.”