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Looking Back With Pride, Looking Forward With Excitement

All is quiet at the MomsTEAM office this week. As we have done for the past thirteen years, we take a two-week year-end vacation to gear up for the New Year.

Stopping by to pick up a book, I look around the quiet office, I close my eyes and reflect on the biggest youth and high school sports stories of the year and wonder if we as a nation are any closer to our MomsTEAM mission of making sports safer, saner, less stressful and more inclusive or if we continue to spin wildly out of control in the crazy vortex that is youth sports in the 21st century.  I would like to think we are making some progress on the safety front, but less stressful? More inclusive? Not so sure we are making progress there. 

As much as we look back with pride on what we accomplished over the past year, highlighted by the release of our PBS documentary, "The Smartest Team", we eagerly look forward to the year ahead and the launch of our non-profit arm, the MomsTEAM Institute.

Caitlin Cahow: Being Openly Gay Not Only Reason For Inclusion In U.S. Delegation To Sochi Olympics

Sometimes, when it feels like all I read about in the newspapers and hear on television is about war and conflict, along comes a young woman with wisdom, grace, confidence and dignity beyond her years, an "old soul", if you will, ready to bring us together, to teach the world that we are all one people.  Catlin Cahow is just such a person.  

The naming by President Barack Obama of Caitlin Cahow to be a member of the U.S. delegation to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia came as no surprise to Brooke de Lench, not because she is openly gay but because offers the world a perspective on the power of sport in general, and the Olympics in particular, to unite, rather, than divide nations and people.

High School Football Playoffs: Not A Time For Concussion Safety To Take Back Seat To Winning


As the 2013 high school football season enters the home stretch, with teams fighting to stay alive in the playoffs, or preparing for traditional end-of-the-season games on Thanksgiving morning, the risk of concussion is an ever-present concern. 

Football player holding his head

But now is not the time to put winning ahead of safety.

Even in the best of times, studies show that high school football players face what one recently called a ‘culture of resistance' to reporting to sideline personnel that they are experiencing concussion symptoms.

As the 2013 high school football season enters the home stretch, with teams fighting to stay alive in the playoffs, or preparing for traditional end-of-the-season games on Thanksgiving morning, the risk of concussion is an ever-present concern. But now is not the time to put winning ahead of safety.

Olympic Hockey Star Julie Chu: Commitment + Honor + Unity = CHU


On Monday, I was able to catch up with three-time Olympic medalist Julie Chu, member of the U.S. Women's National Ice Hockey team, who just happens to be living and training for the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia in my neck of the woods outside Boston.

I decided it was a great time to ask her to reflect back on her hockey journey over the past twelve years, and to hear about how she and her team are preparing for the challenge of replacing the Canadian women atop the podium this time around.

Knowing that three-time Olympic medalist Julie Chu was training for the Winter Games Sochi, Russia just around the corner, Brooke de Lench decided it was time to catch up with the captain of the U.S. Women's National Ice Hockey team, whose career she has been following for a dozen years.

New Concussion Report's Failure To Discuss Impact Monitoring Unfortunate Omission

The MomsTEAM staff and I are still digging into the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council's three-hundred-some-odd page report on sports-related concussions in youth sports,[1]  but one thing jumped out at me at my first pass: When I did a search in the report for a discussion of impact monitoring devices (a/k/a hit sensors), I found only one brief mention of sensors in the committee's recommendation that the Centers for Disease Control fund large scale data collection efforts for research purposes, including data from impact sensors.

Conspicuous by its absence from the new IOM/NRC report on concussions in youth sports was any mention of the use of real-time impact monitoring systems on the sports sideline. Unfortunately, the lack of any such discussion will just end up making it that much more difficult to get the message out that the benefits of real-time impact monitoring, and place an additional obstacle in the path to their use.

Improving Football Safety: Is It Up To Parents?


Now that the concussion lawsuit filed by retired National Football League players has apparently been settled (remember: the judge still has to give her approval), it's time to focus on the upcoming football season, and working to make the sport safer at every level of the game. Missy Womack

Sincerest form of flattery

We could sit back and wait for the N.F.L., National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS), USA Football and Pop Warner to lead the way on football safety.

Football safety is largely up to parents, argues Brooke de Lench, working with all other groups in their community with a stake in making football safer, including independent football organizations, school boards, school superintendents, athletic directors, coaches, school nurses and psychologists, and other health care providers, to improve football safety at the grassroots level.

NOCSAE Voiding of Certification For Sensor-Equipped Helmets: A Big Blow To Player Safety

Last week many of the technology manufacturers who have been working diligently to produce products to make helmeted sports such as football safer were dealt a severe, if not crippling, blow by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) when, out of the blue, it decided to view modification of helmets with third-party after-market add-ons as voiding its certification, which could only be regained if the helmet is retested with the add-on. Newcastle Racers wearing three different football helmets

Brooke de Lench believes that the new NOCSAE ruling voiding the certification for sensor-equipped helmets could not have come at a worse time, just as football - from the youth level to the NFL - is gearing up for the 2012 season. If not reversed or modified, de Lench fears that it will have harsh real-world consequences; not just on sensor manufacturers but on player safety and consumer choice.

Newcastle-Moore, Oklahoma Tornado Hit Close To Home

Two things have weighed heavily on my mind the past two weeks: the tornadoes that have ravaged the Oklahoma City area, and the professional and amateur storm chasers who risk their lives to follow them.  

On May 20, 2013, as I watched coverage of the EF-5 Newcastle-Moore tornado on CNN, I was worried about the football community in Newcastle, a town I had grown to know, respect and appreciate over the 8 months I spent visiting last year while producing and directing The Smartest Team documentary.  

Two things have weighed heavily on Brooke de Lench's mind the past two weeks: the Newcastle-Moore tornado that ravaged the Oklahoma City area, and the professional and amateur storm chasers who risk their lives to follow them.

A Mother's Day Wish List

It's May once again. Time for spring sports, warmer weather, longer days, and, of course, Mother's Day. This year, instead of celebrating mothers with the usual cards and flowers, I have put together a special wish list for the mothers, grand mothers, step mothers and other caregivers in this country with kids playing sports.

Brooke de Lench and Taylor Lench

Here's this year's list:

This Mother's Day, as has been her Brooke's practice in years past, she has a wish list for making youth sports better. Here's this year's list.

Improving Concussion Safety in High School Football: Promising Developments, But A Long Way To Go

It has been a good two weeks for parents looking to make high school football safer, with a number of promising developments. But it is not time to declare victory, and many questions remain to be answered.

The last two full weeks of April 2013 have been a good one for parents looking to make high school football safer, but it is not time to declare victory, and many questions remain to be answered,
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