NFL vet joins push for youth coach certification
It's Friday night and that means hundreds of Hoosiers will take the football field to play for their schools.
Parents and coaches would all agree that protecting the athletes is important, but there is a new movement to make that protection a matter of state law.
All across Indiana, youth league volunteers are teaching the techniques of football. Parents and players alike rely on their expertise.
"It's not just tackling or telling your boys to run into each other and make them tough. It's the proper fitting of the shoulder pads and the proper fitting of the helmets," said former NFL star Rosevelt Colvin.
Colvin, who played high school football at Broad Ripple and college ball at Purdue before going pro, spoke Friday at the Indiana Statehouse. Now, he is back coaching his son's pee wee team and testifying in the State Senate about the need to have certification programs for all football coaches who coach at a taxpayer-funded facility.
"You can't knock them for going out there and helping Johnny put his helmet and pads on, because these kids need father figures out there, but they need to be trained properly so they are telling these young men which way to go," Colvin said.
So USA Football has devised a certification program it is asking the state of Indiana to adopt.
"We just feel you should not walk onto a football field without having some level of certification. Some standard of excellence," said Scott Hallenbeck, executive director of USA Football.
The program would teach coaches about hydration preparedness, basic tackling, equipment fitting and concussion management.
According to IHSAA Commissioner Bobby Cox, the program will benefit high school programs as well.
"There is an assumption, and sometimes incorrectly, that every high school coach is thoroughly trained. I would suggest many are trained very well, but there are those who come in who don't have the training, so I think this is very positive and we support it thoroughly," Cox told Eyewitness News after testifying at a legislative committee hearing Friday afternoon.
Indiana High School Hall of Fame coach Dick Dullaghan says it's needed.
"It's going to make the game better. I am interested in making the game better and making it safer," he said.
This was tried a year ago, but lawmakers balked. It appears bill author Senator Travis Holdman will be bringing it back again in the upcoming legislative session in January.