Chelsea youth football practices safety

When injuries happen this fall for Chelsea youth football teams, their coaches will be ready.

In June, the Chelsea Youth Football Club had the opportunity to take the National Center for Sports Safety Prepare course, which teachers coaches how to plan for sports-related injuries and illnesses.

Coaches unable to attend the hands-on-course, which was held at Chelsea High School, were able to take the course online. In the end, 40 of the 42 coaches in Chelsea’s youth football program took the course in some way.

NCSS director of operations Kathryn Gwaltney said the course is essential because it allows coaches to plan for the safety of their players.

“It helps coaches to be prepared for the unexpected,” she said. “It’s also important because it teaches them to recognize injuries, how to prevent injuries and how to stabilize the situation until an emergency professional gets there if an emergency happens.”

Coaches also learn about emergency planning, weather-related illnesses, seizures, asthma, staph infections and head and neck injuries, among others.

The NCSS offers the course free through a partnership with Alabama State University. The course is free, both online and in person, through Oct. 1.

At the Aug. 4 Chelsea City Council meeting, Chelsea Youth Football Club President Scott Ferguson accepted a certificate from the NCSS for participating in the program.

“Our football program has 195 players and 42 coaches. This safety training class allowed us to bring a greater awareness to many of the potential safety issues that can occur in youth sports,” Ferguson said. “After completing the course, our coaches are now more conscientious of these safety issues and better prepared to deal with an emergency situation. We plan to recommend this safety training course for all our Chelsea youth sports coaches.”

To register for the free course online before Oct. 1, go to sportssafety.org, select the Prepare course and enter the promotional code “ASU8-10/2009” upon checkout. To take the hands-on course, contact the NCSS at 866-508-6277.

Gwaltney said the NCSS hopes to bring back the free course later this year. The course is available for all Alabama youth league coaches.

Dr. Larry Lemak, who has a sports medicine clinic at the Shelby Baptist Medical Center, founded the NCSS in 2001.