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  • Writer's pictureTerry O'Neil

Neither Rain, Nor Sleet, Nor Snow

On a wintry weekend in the Northeast, neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow, nor gloom of night could stay Practice Like Pros from swift completion of its appointed rounds.

First stop was Turning Stone Resort Casino in upstate New York, near Syracuse, for the annual New York State High School Football Coaches Association (NYSHSFCA) Clinic, attended by 600-plus coaches.  PLP presented Friday morning to the NYSHSFCA Board of Directors and twice in the afternoon to breakout sessions following the keynote address by Detroit Lions Head Coach Matt Patricia, an upstate New York native. 

Within hours of the PLP presentation, Head Coach Dom Scanna of Fallsburg (NY) High School emailed:  "I was at your coaching clinic today on how to make the game safer.  It was awesome, and I intend for our team not to go full contact in practice this coming season.  Could you please send the slides and videos from your clinic.  I definitely want to present them to my AD and School Board."

Later, Head Coach Peter Reif of Cortland (NY) High School messaged:  "Your presentation made me rethink how we currently practice.  I plan on approaching our booster club about getting support to purchase some additional pads and tackling rings, but I could use some help.  If you could send me the videos from your presentation, I could use them to persuade my booster club."

Second stop of the weekend was the Glazier/Baltimore Clinic at the Hyatt Regency Inner Harbor, where a large Saturday crowd of Maryland, Delaware and Virginia coaches turned out.  Several Maryland coaches asked PLP to explore a reduced-contact proposal with the Maryland Football Coaches Association (MFCA) and the Football Committeeof the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA).

Louisiana, Too

In the Q&A portion of PLP's January 26 presentation to the Glazier/Atlanta Clinic, a coach from Tennessee expressed reservations about PLP's suggested practice limits.  Before Terry O'Neil could reply, another coach spoke up.  He was David Oliver, Athletic Director/Head Coach at St. Amant (LA) High School, near Baton Rouge.

Addressing the Tennessee coach, Oliver said, "Coach, I know exactly how you feel.  I felt the same way six or seven years ago.  But I began to try limited contact.  And the more I tried it, the more I liked it, and the more I could see the benefits.  We're at a point now where our contact is just about what they (PLP) recommend."

A few days later, Oliver connected O'Neil with Dwain Jenkins, president of the Louisiana Football Coaches Association (LFCA) and Athletic Director/Head Coach at rivalLutcher (LA) High School.  In a phone conversation, Jenkins revealed that he, too, practices in synch with PLP guidelines.  Jenkins invited O'Neil to present in late March to a meeting of the LFCA Board of Directors.  O'Neil accepted and asked Oliver to join him as co-presenter.

Louisiana is one of four states that has no restrictions on practice contact at any time of the football calendar.  The others are New Hampshire, Delaware and South Dakota. 

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