Coach's Corner: Sam Knopik 2/27

Sam Knopik

By Sam Knopik Pembroke Hill Head Coach
Posted: February 27, 2011 - 2:12 PM

Nothing facing our game today has the potential to change the game of football more than the head injury awareness that is sweeping the country at all levels of play.


From the local newspapers to national television news networks, sports related head injuries and the issues surrounding them are garnering more attention than they ever have. Players are suffering immediate and long term injuries for a variety of factors related to this issue.


Various factors contributing to head injuries can be divided into three areas of emphasis: poor technique, equipment, returning to play too soon. We will discuss each of these areas in detail in future columns however, this article in not another concussion awareness service announcement.


On Feb. 6, Kent Babb wrote a front page article in the Kansas City Star that jumped back and forth between recent tragedies and various equipment shortcomings in area high schools. In the end however, there was nothing presented that contributed to the resolution of this issue. We have been inundated with scathing criticisms justifiably I might add and much worse than Babb's commentary, of our game and the impact head injuries is having on our players.


The time for simply writing with a bent on awareness is over. If anyone in a position to contribute to solving this problem does not, then they are, in a way, contributing to its continuation. We cannot move forward, as coaches, administrators, officials, journalists, or parents in the same manner of “awareness” as we have in recent years. Awareness must turn to action. The safety of our kids and the safety of our game must have a response of this nature.


The Missouri Football Coaches Association has recently introduced their F.A.S.T. Initiative to directly address issues such as our recent head injury phenomenon. Football Ambassadors for Safety and Training (F.A.S.T.) has teamed up with Cerner and KU Med to create a head injury research project aimed at discovering trends in high school athletic head injuries.


Cerner has developed a state of the art health history data base called Healthe Athlete which is designed to give trainers and medical personnel comprehensive athletic medical histories for athletes. Healthe Athlete has found a home with FIFA (the international governing body of soccer) and other Olympic level sport leagues and organizations. While the F.A.S.T. head injury research project would only use data related to head injuries schools participating would have access to the entire Healte Athlete package, a generous contribution to this effort by Cerner.


KU Med is the first research hospital to jump on board with an interest to use data collected in this project. Professors are looking now for athletic departments in the MO-KAN area who would be willing to participate in unrolling this project on a small level this spring. Objectives would be to work out the “bugs” in the system before going region-wide in the fall of 2011.


From participation in this project high school athletic departments would gain:

1)      Access to a state of the art athletic training software package being used at the highest levels of athletics world-wide.

2)      Knowledge that they were part of the solution in finding trends in high school athletic head injuries.


It is hoped that as the program becomes used in more schools and school districts that it will spread to other states and other research hospitals. Ultimately, the vision is that a collective data base grows large enough so that real conclusions and real information can be used to keep our kids save and at the same time save our game.


If you would like more information on the Missouri Football Coaches Association's F.A.S.T. Initiative you can view their mission and other programs at To inquire about how your school can participate in this project this spring, please contact me at