The following is from Orchard Park Little Loop Football board member Dave Zarbo who, before the start of last season, asked Freshman Maroon Coach John Politowski about the concussion issue as it relates to football. John explained to Dave that concussions can occur in any sport. But to keep our players as safe as possible, our league teaches the Heads Up tackling method created by USA Football. The article below was written by Dave, who wanted to share hie eye-opening experiences about how we keep our players safe.

Because of the concussion risk, football has taken a bad rap in recent years. While initially wary about letting my son Zack play, I felt more confident after learning how all of our coaches are required to teach proper, safe blocking and tackling techniques to reduce the risk.

Wanting to learn more, I completed the Heads Up class online through the USA Football web site,

This past year, when I joined the Orchard Park Little Loop Football board, I had the chance to examine all the equipment with fellow board member Jamie Morley. He said that every year he and a representative from Riddell, our helmet manufacturer, inspect every helmet.

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Every three years, he said, each helmet is required to be returned to the factory for recertification. Those that don’t pass inspection are replaced. This ensures that each child has a safe helmet. Shoulder pads, I learned, are also checked frequently.

I encourage parents to take the online courses so they can learn about concussions. Heaven forbid it happens. But if it does, we’ll all know what steps to take.

After learning as much as I have, I feel more confident about allowing my son to play such a great sport that teaches teamwork,commitment, perseverance, importance of preparation, and self-discipline. I’m also appreciative that there are so many dedicated people and processes in place to keep him and all his new friends safe.