TROY, N.Y.---Fall sports practices are in full swing and that means high school football season is not far off.
But as coaches prepare for their players to get on the field, they want to make sure they come off the field safely as well. Concussions are the number one concern for any parent of a football player.
"Keep your head up" is the biggest thing Troy varsity football coach Jack Burger says he emphasizes to every single one of his players on the field.
As Coach Burger instills the fundamentals of tackling and blocking to his players on the field, atheltic trainer Kathleen Ragsdale is watching every move.
"If they come off and they even say the slightest thing that says to me, especially after a big hit, I have to keep them out," says Ragsdale.
Ragsdale attends every practice and game, looking for signs of a concussion. She says she goes through a basic checklist at first; dizziness, nausea, headache.
If a player does indeed have a concussion, it could be a while before they could be back on the field.
Ragsdale says they must be cleared by a doctor, but it's only a gradual return to play with players re-evaluated every 24 hours. If any symptoms come back, the player goes right back to rest.
"You only have one brain," says Ragsdale. "It's not like when you sprain an ankle, you have another ankle. You have one brain. I'm not doing this to be mean, I'm just doing this for safety."
Ragsdale says while she keeps a watchful eye on the team, players have to be aware and listen to their bodies.
"It's a very serious thing," she says. "So kids have to be aware if they feel after a hit or after a jolt of any sign, and they have signs of dizziness, they have to report those things."
Schalmont varsity football coach Joe Whipple agrees.
"When we run our kids, they're taught when they're running, we're never helmet to helmet, our eyes are always up. If your head hurts even a little bit, you have to come off the field. We never tough out concussions. We have to be very weary about this."
Coach Whipple says in his four years as head coach he has only had two players with slight concussions. He credits that to constant education and proper fundamentals of tackling and blocking.
"It's not something we fool around with by any means," says Whipple. "I think that's why we've been over-cautious. Even if any kid has a slight headache, we keep them out of the remainder of practice. We don't want to take any chances with any of our kids."