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Colorado moms tackle youth football safety


The Broncos hosted the second annual Mon's Football Safety Clinic in partnership with USA Football and Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children.

DENVER – **More than 250 mothers from around the state of Colorado gathered in the stands at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Tuesday night. But while they were decked out in their favorite Broncos clothing, the mother's weren't there to be entertained – they were there to learn.

In conjunction with USA Football and Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, the Broncos' second annual Moms Football Safety clinic is an event designed to educate mothers of youth football players about the key health and safety components surrounding youth football.

The moms rotated in groups to four stations that discussed the main components of player safety: concussion awareness, heat and hydration, equipment fitting and Heads Up tackling.

Broncos tackle Ryan Harris, defensive end Kenny Anunike, outside linebacker Gerald Rivers, wide receiver Nathan Palmer and outside linebacker Chase Vaughn were in attendance to lend a helping hand in the tackling drills and equipment demonstrations.

Wayne Voorhees, USA Football's master trainer in Colorado, goes to schools around the state and teaches coaches about tackling safely. He and a group of coaches helped to instruct the mothers about the Heads Up tackling technique.

"The biggest thing is – mom actually makes the biggest decision if their son plays or not" Voorhees said. "And we want to make sure that they understand that it [is] as safe a game as possible. We're not going to eliminate injuries, but if we do things the right way we can reduce injuries."

Voorhees and his coaches led the moms through a variety of exercises made to show them proper stance, and drills that encouraged the moms to "look up to the sky."

"It's critical. It impacts everything from their success on the field, to success in the classroom," Harris said of the tackling session. "Concussions are serious. They effect everything a young person is going through, and learning the correct technique early ensures future success and safety."

Dr. Karen McAvoy, clinical psychologist and concussion specialist at the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, had an opportunity to give a presentation on the symptoms and signs of concussions in youth to the mothers.

"It's very important," McAvoy said. "We know that football can be a pretty rough sport and one of the most important parts for preventing concussion is appropriate equipment, appropriate tackling techniques, good coaching – all of those kinds of things to prevent the concussion so we don't even have to treat it."

The event not only focused on head safety, but also the importance of hydration and the dangers of heat during these warm summer months. Dr. Brooke Pengel, the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children's pediatrician and sports medicine specialist, spoke to the moms about the symptoms and treatments for heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat strokes.

"It's really critical," said Pengel of the educational event, "because sometimes the moms are the voice of reason and they can really get with the kids. So the moms can really be a critical force in helping the kids practice these good habits. It's a great audience to talk to because the moms get it done!"

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