Safety Oversight

July 12, 2017

In an effort to further promote safety, Rutherford (Tenn.) County Schools has created positions for five safety coaches, who give advice to other coaches regarding how best to promote safety in athletics.

According to the Daily News Journal, the five safety coaches are Julie Atkin, assistant principal for Rock Springs; Mark Gonyea, assistant principal for Smyrna Primary; Ed Pass, a teacher at Siegel; Patrick Stoker, a teacher at La Vergne; and Greg Wyant, athletic director for Siegel, all of whom will also continue in their present positions.

Tim Tackett, athletic director for Rutherford, said the concept was partially inspired by a plan used by USA Football, which he believed could be applied to all sports.

"Our goal is to make high school sports as safe as possible," Tackett said. "I applaud the (school) board for being proactive. It's a new concept and we want to get it right.”

Wyant, who is responsible for track, swimming, and football, said this was intended to help coaches rather than call them out on their mistakes.

"This is just another step in protecting the athletes in the county," said Wyant. "Most coaches are doing the right thing already. Hopefully people won't see us as 'gotcha' people trying to catch you doing something wrong."

Tackett said the safety coaches would give advice to the less experienced coaches on how to prevent concussions and other injuries.

"There are some young, inexperienced coaches, especially at the middle school level,” Tackett said. There's a huge turnover. Sports safety has changed a lot over the years."

The plan will be evaluated in three months, with the idea that it will be refined over time.

"We want to be flexible enough to change as we go,” Tackett said. “We'll ask athletic directors and coaches to help in the process."

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