By JOHNATHAN BENTLEY
Eagle Sports Editor
Jack Crowe is on a mission — and Jasper is where it begins.
Crowe, a longtime football coach and founder and chairman of the Coach Safely Foundation, spoke at the Jasper Kiwanis Club meeting on Monday at Bevill State.
Jasper will be the first city in the state to enact the Coach Safely Act, which became law in March. Crowe sees the new law as a move in the right direction to bring attention to sports injuries in youth athletes.
“What we are seeing is the fear of injury is starting to change the way we look at sports. What parent would leave their child at the swimming pool with no lifeguard? That’s a simple answer,” Crowe said.
“Now, take that same perspective to the football field, the soccer field and every other place where a young child is competing. We are beginning to realize there is a risk. There is lot to be concerned about, but nothing to be afraid of as long as the right things are done. The No. 1 right thing to do is to have a trained coach.”
The Jasper Parks and Recreation Department will be the first to implement the law, which brings coaching standards to all the 14-and-under athletes in Alabama. Volunteer coaches will now be required to take a two-hour video series of injury prevention courses.
The course covers the recognition of concussions, heat and exertion illnesses, trauma and overuse, sudden cardiac arrest and emergency action plans.
“We are in Jasper first. We have presented this before the city council and the mayor. This is the first community to adopt a resolution to implement training.
“Where did 911 start — Haleyville. Where is coach safely training going to start — Jasper. We are going to learn a lot as we go through this year. This ought to be a safer place for kids to play sports. I think if we start here, let’s do it right. If we are going to shine a light, let’s shine it bright. We are not just complying to a law, but setting a standard,” said Crowe, who has a background in sports medicine.
Along with a coaching career that included stops at Livingston, UNA, Auburn, Clemson, Arkansas, Baylor and Jacksonville State, Crowe has a pre-med degree from UAB and was the Executive Director of the American Sports Medicine Institute from 1997-99. He retired from coaching in 2012 after a 13-year stint as the Jacksonville State head coach.
The new law will effect all coaches in the Jasper Parks and Recreation Department and will be implemented starting in the fall.
“In high school, if you are a volunteer, you have to go through certification. Until this passed, anyone could coach 14-and-under. Now, before you go out there, you have to go through this training. I had to have certified lifeguards at the pool, but our coaches were not,” Jasper City councilwoman Jennifer Smith said.
The law will be implemented at the city level. Implementing, enforcing and administering the Coach Safely Act is the responsibility of the Alabama Department of Public Health.