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Making football safe on all levels


The Steelers continue to make progress in making the game of football safer for young athletes, reaching out to even more local football players to implement the Heads Up Football program established by USA Football.

Steelers President Art Rooney II recently sent a letter to the high school programs in the Pittsburgh area, encouraging them to adopt the Heads Up Football program with the Steelers providing a grant to help defer a portion of the cost for certifying the coaches in the program.

"Here at the Steelers, we continue to be committed to high school and youth football through camps, clinics, events, and other experiences for players, coaches and parents," the letter from Rooney read. "We want to provide support and assistance to make the game the best experience it can be for the children that wish to play. For that reason, we are committed to helping your school implement the Heads Up Football program with USA Football."

Both the WPIAL and City League in Pittsburgh have now endorsed Heads Up Football, which consists of six pillars, including heads up tackling, concussion awareness, heat hydration, equipment fitting, education and certification of coaches, and player safety coach.

"The Heads Up Program is a very important initiative for all WPIAL member schools in that the program provides a very in depth educational approach to player safety for all those interested in coaching and playing football at the high school, middle school, and youth league levels," said Tim O'Malley, Executive Director of the WPIAL. "The fact that the Pittsburgh Steelers organization has taken the lead in this initiative adds significantly to its credibility and the hope of the WPIAL is that our member schools will willingly take part in this very important and highly valuable program."

The Steelers utilize the pillars of Heads Up Football in all of their youth football clinics and camps, and high school administrators understand that the program can have nothing but positive results for the schools that utilize it.

"The Heads Up program is a valuable tool that allows the coaches in the Pittsburgh City League to continue to be proactive in their education of concussion management," said Michael Gavlik, Director of Athletics for Pittsburgh Public Schools. "It is vital to the safety and welfare of the student athletes that play football that their coaches have at their disposal all information needed for proper concussion awareness and response protocol.  Along with the skills necessary to teach our players the proper fundamentals of tackling and best practices for heat and hydration of the players, the Heads Up program encompasses all the components that enhance player safety."

And having the backing of the Steelers organization is just icing on the cake when encouraging the schools to participate.  

"The Steelers organization has long been recognized as a leader in the football community not only in Western, PA, but the country," said Gavlik. "The fact that they are leading the way in concussion awareness with the Heads Up program is not a surprise.  Their willingness to work with the local school districts and youth football organizations to ensure that our student athletes safety and welfare are at the forefront is a direct result of the passion and pride for football that the Pittsburgh Steelers have always provided to our city and region and is greatly appreciated."

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