Football prioitizes safety amid concussion crisis

Football prioitizes safety amid concussion crisis

Austin Wallert, Sports Reporter

Football has been a power house at Winona State University since the arrival of head coach Tom Sawyer, but the team, like many others, has dealt with many injuries over the last few years.

The Winonan caught up with third-year defensive end, Corrie King, about how he keeps his body healthy.

“I actually play a lot of basketball to work on my conditioning and to make sure I stay at my body weight, and I try to watch what I eat, like staying away from the carbs as much as possible,” King said. “This year, Coach Sawyer wanted me to be at a certain weight, so I try to focus on eating a lot more protein instead of chips and all the other unhealthy things I consume.”

The football team work out four days a week in the morning, and every once in a while, King said, he tries to get another work out in later in the day. He also puts an emphasis on getting his rest.

“Sleep is so important and so underrated when you are working out as much as us athletes,” King said.

Corrie also talked about the concern of concussions for players and fans of the game, and what the team does to help protect the players from head injuries.

“We’re all mandated to wear these helmet covers that give us extra padding for our head. We also have changed our hitting progression,” King said. “The Seattle Seahawks worked on hawk rolling, which is getting your head out of the play, instead of bringing it across and using it as sort of an anchor.”

King praised his training staff for making sure players are able to return to the field after going through the concussion test and checking for concussion-like symptoms.

Even with all the proper techniques and current equipment, concussions and other injuries can happen. The NFL made rules changes this past season to protect players. I asked King if he sees other rule changes occurring or, if he sees a different solution.

“I don’t see any different solutions. In every sport you play, there are going to be injuries and possible concussions. You can get a concussion playing basketball and soccer is actually the leading sport in concussions, so it’s unfortunate to me that football is taking the brunt end of this,” King said.  “But, I do think the extra pads on the helmet and the right techniques of how to hit are helping.  It all comes down to the coaches and learning what techniques are best to prevent it and how they can incorporate that into their coaching philosophies.”

King also talked abou the Kato Collar, which is a newer invention first tested in the NSIC by Minnesota State University-Mankato linebacker Marcus Gooden. The Kato Collar was invented by Jeff Chambers, certified athletic trainer for 35 years at the NCAA level.

It works by acting like an airbag with two-stage deceleration. The collar in testing has shown up to a 30 percent decrease in the deceleration of the brain, while still allowing full range of motion.

“I think that is a possibility. I’m sure we would take anything that would help us prevent concussions and other injuries,” King said.  “Obviously with Mankato using this, they are a team that is winning playoff games and keeping their guys healthy late in the season. So, if we can do the same and limit concussions, that’s only more games we can win later on in the year.”

The Kato Collar has received a $50,000 MILE investment to continue research and production.