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Valley recreation director on sports leagues concussion protocol

VALLEY — The concern for concussions in youth football has been a topic of discussion across the country.

Last week in Pike County, Georgia, 16-year-old linebacker Dylan Thomas died after suffering a head injury in a game against Peach County High School. In the same weekend, Tennessee State redshirt sophomore Christion Abercrombie was sent to ICU after suffering an injury on the field as well. Abercrombie remained in ICU as of Thursday afternoon.

On the local level, an offensive lineman in Valley’s 11 and 12-year-old recreational division was taken to the emergency room after suffering a concussion earlier this week. Once the ball was snapped, the two linemen clashed heads at the line of scrimmage. 

“We are trained,” Valley Sportsplex director Mark Hudmon said. “We supervise all of these games, we’re out there, we watch closely. If we see something that needs to be corrected, we step right in and correct it. Not only do we talk to the officials, but we also talk to the kids at that point in time too. [We tell them] ‘that’s not the proper way to tackle, that’s not the proper way to lower your head.’ If we see it, we stop it.”

The lineman will have to sit out for 10 days after his concussion symptoms, including nausea, dizziness, confusion and blurry vision, end. The young player is back at home recovering, as of Tuesday evening.

Every recreational game at Valley has a supervisor on each field, according to Hudmon.

“You can’t control everything but once it happens, you can make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he said.

At the start of every season in all sports, coaches in the Valley recreational league have to go through and complete a Center for Disease Control (CDC) course to be eligible to lead a team. All employees on the Valley recreational staff are required to complete the course as well.

Valley’s league teaches its players to tackle at the hip.

“With all of the concussion and targeting rules, we do not teach head-to-head contact at all,” Hudmon said. “We’re trying to get that head out of there.”

Valley’s recreational league use high school officials to make calls of all illegal hits in the games. There hasn’t been one illegal hit in the league so far this season, according to Hudmon.

Other recreational sports in Valley deal with the occasional head injury, like if a baseball player trips over a base or gets hit in the face with a ball, according to Hudmon.

“But again, we have all of these coaches trained through the CDC program,” he said. “It’s pretty much the same thing where we’re out there watching and if something did happen, we would step in and check on the kid and try to correct what we do to prevent it from happening again.”

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