This year with new equipment manager, Kevin Shuckburgh, in charge of all the gear for Stettler Minor Football Association (SMFA), fitting ran over four days with 70 players taken care of and more to join after spring football sessions.
All the coaching staff of SMFA have been working over the winter months to make sure that the equipment they were handing out were in the best shape.
“All of the gear being given out was inventoried and checked; the equipment is expensive and for every piece that isn’t returned or damaged we have to pay to replace it,” Shuckburgh said. “This is a big cost of running our teams.”
SMFA had a large group of coaches come in and volunteer their time to clean and check bladders, padding, and general maintenance on each and every one of the helmets.
“We are fully committed to the safety of our players so in addition to SCAT tests, SMFA has mandated that our entire coaching staff be trained in the National Coaching Certification program for safe contact and making headway in football,” Shuckburgh stated. “Safe contact instructs our coaches how to teach our players to hit and block in a manner that keeps their heads and necks safe, and the making headway in football trains our coaches how to prevent, recognize, and manage concussions.”
Adding to this was Tricia Wagner, who is the PeeWee trainer this year.
Wagner said that the test they used is the Sports Concussion Assessment Tools (SCAT) test.
“Concussion baselines are very important because they give us a pre-injury overview of our players, consisting of both physical and cognitive tests,” Wagner added. “For the Atom and PeeWee teams there is a player and a parent portion of the tests. It is very important to have parents involved as well as coaching staff, trainers and players as concussion symptoms could arise anytime within 24 to 48 hours, which is why we will be sending home information for parents on signs and symptoms to watch for post-concussion or possible concussions.”
All Stettler minor football players must have their SCAT tests done prior to hitting the field.
“Safety of our players is our main concern and with the proper training, safe upgraded equipment and prevention, we intend to have a successful year,” Wagner added.
The SMFA are also considering trying out shock boxes, tools that could prove very useful in monitoring on-field impacts to a player’s head, according to Shuckburgh.
“Shock box is a sensor placed in the helmet of a player. When the helmet is struck at excessive force it can send an alert to a coaches or trainers phone,” Shuckburgh explained. “At the moment we do not have this equipment but are giving serious consideration to trying out a couple to see if it is of benefit.”
After the SMFA gala, the organization was able to invest in new helmets.
“It was a great moment getting to see the smiles on kids’ faces who were handed new helmets, so a huge thank you to all of our ‘Put a Lid on a Kid’ sponsors,” Shuckburgh said.