Keeping your kids safe on the football field

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News 12 at 11 o'clock/ Monday, August 19th, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- It's a parent's nightmare. A 16 year old boy killed while playing the sport he loved.

Deantre Turman was a cornerback at Creekside High School just outside of Atlanta. Friday night he was playing in a scrimmage when he made what appeared to be a routine tackle, but that tackle ended his life. Turman fractured a vertebrae and later died of blunt force trauma to the head and neck.

It's a story that resonates with parents, coaches and high school athletes. As many schools begin their first week of the season this week coaches are working to keep your kids safe out on the field.

"Our athletes over the past few years have gotten stronger and faster and quicker," said Westminster coach Andrew Bryan.

He's been coaching Westminster's football team for the past three seasons. "We want them to play hard and play at a high level of competition, but we also want them to stay safe at all time," said Bryan.

He says what happened to a football player in Atlanta can shake you to the core, "You see something like that and it's tragic. It hurts my heart as a coach and also as a father."

But he says a tragedy like this just reinforces what they focus on everyday.

"We always stress safety. We talk preseason and then right at the beginning of season, and all through the season we talk about safety," he said.

"Everybody thinks of football as a contact sport and it's really not. It's a collision sport it's much higher than just contact, you're hitting each other," added trainer Tim McLane.

He is the head athletic trainer for GRU and has been working with Westminster's football team since the beginning.

"The biggest thing we do is try to correct technique and explain to them why," he said. "The other part is conditioning and strength. Those things help."

But no matter what you do, injuries can happen, "Everybody says with the incident this weekend in Atlanta he did not lead with his head. It was good technique. You're not going to prevent them all."

But for the coaches and trainers, their drill everyday is to keep the kids safe.

"It has an impact," said McLane. "I had one of those happen way early in my career and it's made an impact on me ever since. It's something I look back everyday and hopefully watch these kids and help them catch that technique and make sure it doesn't happen again if I can help it."

McLane says another thing that can be dangerous for these boys is seeing players in the upper levels setting a bad example on the field. But he says this year the NCAA plans to have stricter penalties for targeting, or leading with your head, which he thinks will send a good message all the way down to these players and even younger.

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