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Intersection: School Protocols To Keep Student Athletes Safe

Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture on Flickr.
Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture on Flickr.

What protocols do universities, colleges and public schools have in place to keep athletes safe?

This week Stetson University is honoring the life of Nick Blakely. The 19 year old Sophomore accounting major collapsed during football practice on Monday.

Coach Roger Hughes said staff were nothing short of heroic in their efforts to save Blakely's life at practice there was nothing to indicate health issues that would have kept him off the field. The cause of death is not yet known.

A few years ago the NCAA developed new guidelines aimed at improving safety for college athletes.

Doug Patterson, Senior Administrator of Athletics and Activities with Orange County Public Schools, Rebecca Stearns, Chief Operating Officer with the Korey Stringer institute at the University of Connecticut, and Scott Armstrong, director of Sports Medicine at Bethune Cookman University, joined Intersection to talk about what is being done to keep student athletes safe.

Patterson said each student athlete attending schools in Orange County has to complete a detailed physical before playing any sports.

Orange County Public Schools also have an athletic trainer at every school to help student athletes.

"Our athletic trainer are at all the [football] practices, we take water breaks around every 10 minutes," he said.

"If a student athlete is struggling at all or not feeling themselves we pull them off the field immediately and take precautions."

Stearns said sickle cell anemia is one of the top reason why athletes die in sports. Sickle cell anemia is a blood disorder and during intense exercise red blood cells can collapse.

Stearns said the best way to avoid something catastrophic from the blood disorder is to address it as soon as possible.

"Just being aware and being able to address it promptly is probably the biggest key in terms of preventing it from getting any worse," she said.

Armstrong said the pre-screening for student athletes at Bethune Cookman University includes nutrition, mental health and sleep.

"We make sure we're getting everyone connected. It's a holistic approach," he said.