New Law Requires Concussion Training for Coaches

Youth sports coaches are getting schooled on the facts about concussions and their players.

On April 26, Ohio’s Return to Play law goes into effect for all youth and high school sporting activities. The legislation was written last year and Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed it in December.

It requires coaches to go through concussion awareness training online and become certified, which means knowing the symptoms and behaviors that go along with concussions and knowing when to take a player out of the game.

“If anyone feels there is a reason that child should not be playing, we have the responsibility to take them out, have them observed, and again have them examined before they’re going to be coming back to play,” said Brad Gessner, secretary of the Austintown Junior Soccer League.

Players and parents also have to a sign a form acknowledging the rules, and coaches can be charged with criminal offenses if they do not have the required training.

Phil Bova, manager for the Springfield Pony League, had to put all he learned in the online course into play a just a few weeks ago, when second baseman Tyler Harbert took a hit to the head.

“It just made us more aware of what concussions symptoms are, how it affects the children and whatnot,” Bova said.

Harbert said he had a minor concussion and he was not allowed to play for two weeks on his doctor’s order. He is now being extra careful, also on his doctor’s order.

“He said if I got hit in the head again, I would be flipping burgers for the rest of my life, so that wouldn’t be good,” Harbert said.

Athletes need to be medically cleared to return to a game and state law actually prohibits a player from returning on the same day.

“Brain injuries we’ve seen with football and that, again, how important it’s becoming to not only be aware of them, but the time it takes for children to heal from those things,” Gessner said. “What they found is everyone thinks that children are going to heal faster, that if a child gets a head injury, that they’re young, they’re energetic, they’re growing, to get them right back out there. But what they’re finding is it’s actually the opposite. The brain needs to rest.”

Bova said he sees this as a smart law and another layer of protection for his players.

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