Rocket Football Starts New Heads Up Program This Fall

Rocket football
By Mari Smith

Vicksburg High School stadium came to life on a Saturday evening in August with the sights and sounds of football. While summer is winding down, football safety is gearing up.

Vicksburg Rocket football announced at its inaugural event that it has aligned itself with USA Football and the organization’s “Heads Up Football” program. Josh Baird, vice-president of Vicksburg’s Rocket Football, states that this USA program, which is funded by the National Football League (NFL), emphasizes safety first for its youngest players.

This safety goal will be made easier by the generosity of the United Way and Vicksburg Rotary Club, each donating $750 to Vicksburg Rocket football. Carol Lohman of the United Way and Mike Tichvon of the Rotary Club presented their checks to Kip Young, president of Vicksburg Rocket Football. Young gratefully stated that with these donations, the organization will be able to be equipment-compliant with USA’S Heads Up Football.

Hunter Van varsity quarterback shows Cody Roy how to throw.
Hunter Van varsity quarterback shows Cody Roy how to throw.
More than 580,000 players and 83,000 coaches nationwide have joined this program, which is also endorsed by organizations including the PAC 10 and Big 10. Through its training and certification, it teaches coaches their Heads Up Tackling method in a step-by-step directive that uses five basic skills to teach and reinforce the mechanics of tackling while reducing helmet contact.

It also teaches concussion awareness and what to do if one occurs. In support of this, players, parents and fans will notice the program’s banners reminding “When in doubt sit them out.”

This effort will be great early support of Vicksburg High School, who has, according to Coach Tom Marchese, been at the forefront of concussion monitoring. All high school players receive base-line impact testing before their freshman and junior years, as well as all new players. The motto to avoid head-on impact at the high school level is “Hit what you see. See what you hit.”

Young describes the USA Heads Up tackle method as staying low and coming up on the tackle, keeping the child’s head out of the impact. The five steps to accomplish this are identified as “Breakdown, Buzz, Hit, Shoot and Rip.” The anticipated three teams of 8/9 year olds and three teams of 10/11 year olds will be taught this new tackle method from the outset. Brenden Hoffman, a third grade student at Sunset Lake Elementary, knows that the helmets are worn to protect players’ heads and felt that a concussion was, “A really bad headache.” Indian Lake third graders Zeke Bombich and Luke Bainter are aware you can get a concussion “ . . . when you hit your head really hard.”

This knowledge by the young participants will help the coaches in implementing the new tackle method.

Among the different stations that the players participated in on Saturday was a station that demonstrated the USA’s tackle fundamentals.

Rick Holmes, Vicksburg Rocket Football’s Player Safety coach, summed it up by saying that Heads Up Tackle, “ . . . means these boys are going to walk off the field instead of being carried off.”

The United Way and Rotary Club donations will go a long way toward this goal of protecting young Vicksburg football players

2013 Vicksburg Rocket Football Schedule

Coach Klinger 8/9
Week 1 September 7 @Three Rivers A 12:00pm
Week 2 September 14 Mattawan B 10:30am
Week 3 September 21 @Kazoo Christian A 1:30pm
Week 4 September 28 @Allegan 11:00am
Week 5 October 5 Galesburg Augusta 2:00pm
Week 6 October 12 Three Rivers B 9:00am

Coach Minnis 8/9
Week 1 September 7 @Three Rivers C 3:00pm
Week 2 September 14 Mattawan D 1:30pm
Week 3 September 21 @Delton 12:00pm
Week 4 September 28 Paw Paw B 12:00pm
Week 5 October 5 @Plainwell B 1:30pm
Week 6 October 12 Three Rivers A 12:00pm

Coach Smith 8/9
Week 1 September 7 @Three Rivers B 1:30pm
Week 2 September 14 Mattawan C 12:00pm
Week 3 September 21 @Kazoo Christian B 3:00pm
Week 4 September 28 Paw Paw A 10:30am
Week 5 October 5 @Plainwell A 3:00pm
Week 6 October 12 Three Rivers C 10:30am

Coach Baird 10/11
Week 1 September 7 Three Rivers B 10:30am
Week 2 September 14 @Mattawan A 10:30am
Week 3 September 21 Plainwell A 9:00am
Week 4 September 28 Hackett B 9:00am
Week 5 October 5 Paw Paw B 6:30pm
Week 6 October 12 @Parchment B 3:00pm

Coach Conklin 10/11
Week 1 September 7 Three Rivers C 12:00pm
Week 2 September 14 @Mattawan B 12:00pm
Week 3 September 21 Plainwell B 10:30am
Week 4 September 28 @Gull Lake B 12:00pm
Week 5 October 5 Allegan B 8:00pm
Week 6 October 12 Kazoo Christian A 1:30pm

Coach Thomas 10/11
Week 1 September 7 @Galesburg C 1:30pm
Week 2 September 14 @Mattawan C 1:30pm
Week 3 September 21 Paw Paw* 12:00pm
Week 4 September 28 @Gull Lake C 1:30pm
Week 5 October 5 Hackett A 3:30pm
Week 6 October 12 Kazoo Christian B 3:00pm
*Possible Waldo Stadium Game

Coach Verner 10/11
Week 1 September 7 Three Rivers A 9:00am

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