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Tag Archive | "MHSAA"

Cedar Springs shuts out Ottawa Hills 48-0


Cedar Springs ran away with the game against Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills last Friday, 48-0. Courtesy photo.

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Red Hawks varsity football team won their seventh straight game last Friday, October 12, when they traveled to Houseman Field to take on GR Ottawa Hills Bengals.

The Red Hawks controlled the game from the very first quarter, limiting the Bengals to only 47 yards and one first down the entire game. 

“I was pleased with the way our guys went out and took care of business,” said Red Hawks Coach Gus Kapolka. “We were focused and executed well, which sometimes is hard to do when you are playing an opponent who has a 1-6 record.”

Cedar scored early in the first quarter when Ryan Ringler ran up the middle for a 49-yard touchdown with 11:32 left on the clock. Ethan West’s run into the endzone for the two-point conversion was good.

The Red Hawks scored again in the first quarter with 4:43 left when Sage Serbenta ran left for a one-yard touchdown, and Kolby Swank then ran in the extra points.

They scored again with 2:09 left in the first when Ryan Ringler blocked a punt from Ottawa Hills, and Cedar scored a safety. The score at the end of the first was Cedar Springs 18, Ottawa Hills 0.

The Red Hawks scored three times in the second quarter. With 10:07 left on the clock, Ben Shaw ran up the middle for a 23-yard touchdown and Kolby Swank ran in the extra points. Three minutes later they scored again when Sage Serbenta ran one yard into the endzone for the touchdown and then Ethan West ran in the two-point conversion. They scored again at the 2:20 mark when Landon Totten ran left for a 10-yard touchdown, and took the ball into the endzone again for the two-point conversion. The score at the end of the half was Cedar Springs 42, Ottawa Hills 0.

Neither team scored during the third quarter, but the Red Hawks scored one more time in the fourth. With 2:11 left on the clock, Jeremy Champione ran up the middle for a 2-yard touchdown, then Champione attempted a pass to Zack Shcmid for the extra points, but it was no good.

The Red Hawks accumulated 380 yards rushing, with Ryan Ringler (92), Sage Serbenta (77), and Landon Totten (63) leading the way. Ben Shaw added 44, Jeremy Champione 30, Lucus Pienton 21, Gage Gardner 16, and Zack Schmid 14. Swank added 4 yards rushing, and 4 yards passing.

On defense, Kaden Liggett led in tackles with 6 and Miles Cartwright had 5. The rest of the team had 3 or less each.

The Red Hawks sealed at least a share of the conference title with the win, and as they are now only one game away from the playoffs, Kapolka was happy to give some of the younger players a chance to get some experience on the gridiron.

“We were able to play a lot of young guys in the second half, and those game reps are invaluable for them moving forward,” he said.

This Friday Cedar Springs (7-1, 5-0) hosts Forest Hills Northern (5-3, 3-2) in their last regular season game. Come on out and cheer them on!

Please note that according to Cedar Springs Athletic Director John Norton, the MHSAA has raised District Ticket prices to $6 moving forward. So be prepared as you head off to post-season events. This will include all playoff football games as well. And remember, even if the event is at Cedar Springs, no passes are accepted during post-season play.

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Be the Referee


By Mark Uyl, Asst. Director, MHSAA

Always first and goal during overtime

In Michigan, football overtime for each team starts with first and goal at the 10-yard line. Other states which allow overtime begin anywhere from the 10 to the 25-yard line, and in some of those states, you could actually pick up a first down while on offense.

But Michigan is always first and goal. Even in those situations where a dead ball foul from the end of the first team’s possession in an overtime may start the second team’s series at the 25, it is still first and goal.

The only way a team on offense can pick up a first down in overtime is on a penalty providing yardage plus an automatic first down, and those are only the roughing calls: roughing the passer, the kicker, the holder and the long snapper.

Be the Referee is a weekly message from the Michigan High School Athletics Association that is designed to help educate people on the rules in different sports, to help them better understand the art of officiating, and to recruit officials.

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Fall sports begin, rule changes


 

This fall, two football game dates again precede Labor Day, and a number of MHSAA schools will play their first varsity games Thursday, Aug. 23. Cedar Springs will travel to Saginaw Swan Valley on Thursday, August 23, for their first game of the season. Swan Valley went 12-2 last year, but was beat in the state finals by West Catholic. Cedar Springs will play their second game at home on Thursday, August 30 against Caledonia.

For fall sports, perhaps the most discussed change will concern MHSAA Tournament classification in volleyball. For the first time, volleyball teams are classified in four equal divisions instead of the traditional Class A-B-C-D. Class will no longer be used to organize the postseason for any sport, including girls and boys basketball in the winter. All other sports previously had switched from classes to divisions.

While most fall sports face at least minor rules changes this season, a few of the most noticeable adjustments in fall sports will come in football, volleyball, boys soccer and girls swimming & diving.

  • In an effort to improve football pace of play by reducing re-kicks after a free or scrimmage kick (generally kickoffs or punts, respectively), an option has been added allowing the receiving team to accept a penalty and tack on the awarded yardage to the spot where the kick or punt return ended. This option incentivizes the receiving team to forgo a re-kick, and joins three other options after a penalty on the kicking team. The receiving team also may continue to accept a penalty from the previous spot and have the kicking team re-kick; and on kickoffs that travel out of bounds, the receiving team may continue to accept the ball and begin possession 25 yards from where the kickoff occurred or decline the penalty and begin possession where the kick flew out of bounds.
  • Additionally for football, players who fail to properly wear required equipment or are missing required equipment during a down shall be replaced for one down rather than incur a yardage penalty. Previously, a penalty was assessed for delay of game in this scenario. If a player’s proper or legal equipment has become improperly worn through use and prompt repair is possible and does not cause a delay in game, that repair may be made without the player being replaced for the next down.
  • A change in volleyball will allow teams to substitute for an injured/ill player prior to a replay; previously a replay would take place with no changes on the floor after the point was originally contested.
  • Also in volleyball, with an eye on risk minimization, teams will be allowed to warm-up between sets only in their playing area and may not hit volleyballs over the net into the opponents’ playing area.
  • For soccer – both boys this fall and girls in the spring – teams may continue to play up to two multi-team events every season, but beginning this fall a multi-team event can include two full 80-minute games the same day and still be counted as only one of a team’s 18 regular-season contests. Teams also may continue to play multi-team events with 30-minute halves and no more than 180 minutes total in one day (for example, three games with 30-minute halves) and call it just one contest of the 18.
  • Another significant soccer change will switch the home team to wearing the dark uniform and the away team to wearing the white uniform. The change was made to allow home teams to wear their school colors – it does not require teams to purchase new uniforms, but only switches which team wears dark and which wears white.
  • Also for soccer, a change has been made to the penalty when a player is whistled for denying the other team an obvious goal-scoring opportunity. If a player, in the penalty area, commits an infraction while attempting to play the ball, and that infraction results in a penalty kick, that offending player will receive a yellow card – previously this would have been a red card. If the player is not attempting to play the ball when an infraction is called in the penalty area that results in a penalty kick, the offending player still will receive a red card along with the opposing team being awarded the penalty kick.

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MHSAA adopts revised transfer regulation at spring meeting


 

 

The adoption of major changes to the Michigan High School Athletic Association transfer regulation was among notable actions taken by the Representative Council during its annual Spring Meeting, May 6-7, in Gaylord.

The Spring Meeting of the 19-member legislative body of the Association’s more than 1,400 member schools is generally the busiest of its three sessions each year. The Council considered 29 committee proposals and dealt with a variety of eligibility rule, postseason tournament and operational issues.

The revised transfer regulation will go into effect for the 2019-20 school year, based on a student-athlete’s sports participation during 2018-19. The new transfer rule will make transferring student-athletes ineligible for one year in any sport played during the previous year at the previous school—unless that student-athlete’s situation fits one of the current 15 exceptions that allow for immediate eligibility. However, the revised transfer regulation also allows that transferring student-athlete immediate eligibility in any other MHSAA-sponsored sport not participated in during that previous year at the previous school.

 The additions to the transfer rule received vast support from member schools in surveys leading up to the Council’s vote.

 “We are hopeful this ‘sport-specific’ transfer rule will be easier to understand, and therefore, more consistently enforced,” MHSAA Executive Director John E. “Jack” Roberts said. “This rule better addresses the changing landscape of transfers, hopefully dissuading those considering moving for athletic reasons while still allowing a full range of sports for those who do switch. It may seem like a punishment to some, but the new rule is actually more permissive for many transfer students, and we saw growing support for these changes from our schools since we began discussing this proposal a year ago.”

To read about other changes made at the spring meeting, read the entire article at https://www.mhsaa.com/News/Press-Releases/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/7243/MHSAA-Representative-Council-Adopts-Revised-Transfer-Regulation-at-Spring-Meeting.

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MHSAA Representative Council Selects Mark Uyl as Next Executive Director


 

Mark Uyl

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Mark Uyl, formerly a high school teacher, coach and administrator and currently an assistant director for the Michigan High School Athletic Association and one of the nation’s most respected voices in sports officiating, has been selected as the next executive director of the MHSAA by its Representative Council.

He will succeed retiring Executive Director John E. “Jack” Roberts in August. Roberts, who has served as executive director since the fall of 1986, announced his retirement April 24.

Uyl (pronounced yule), 44, joined the MHSAA staff in January 2004 and coordinates the Association’s nearly 10,000 officials in addition to serving as director of baseball and administrator of the MHSAA’s catastrophic and concussion care insurance plans. He also has served as director of cross country and wrestling during his tenure.

As assistant director, Uyl was instrumental as the MHSAA became the first state high school athletics association to offer concussion care insurance, which provides gap coverage to assist in covering costs for athletes who are injured while participating in MHSAA-sponsored sports. As an official himself, Uyl has worked to build a stronger relationship with those working high school events that has included an increase in training and support. As a sport director, Uyl has sought to create the best experiences for Michigan high school teams, including with the move of the MHSAA Baseball and Softball Finals to Michigan State University in 2014.

“The foundation built here by Jack Roberts over the last 32 years is the strongest in the country, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to lead our staff in building on that foundation,” Uyl said. “There will be many ways we’ll continue to protect the same values of educational athletics, while also looking for new ways and new opportunities to best serve the students and our member schools in Michigan.”

In addition to his full-time MHSAA duties, Uyl has officiated collegiate baseball since 1997 and is regarded as one of the best at that level. In addition to umpiring major conference baseball all over the United States, Uyl was part of the crews for the 2014 and 2017 College World Series. He also officiated college football for 12 years with several NCAA postseason assignments, and did serve as coordinator of officials for the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association. He was registered with the MHSAA for at least three sports beginning in 1992 and worked the Baseball Finals in 1999.

Additionally, Uyl served on the board of directors of the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO) from 2012-15 and as its chairperson during his final year. Currently, he serves as the high school representative on the Officiating Development Alliance (ODA), which consists of the supervisors of officials for the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, CFL, MLS and NCAA Division I sports.

The Council made its decision at the conclusion of its annual Spring Meeting on May 7 in Gaylord. Uyl will become only the fifth full-time executive in the MHSAA’s 94-year history, following Charles E. Forsythe (1931-42, 1945-68), Allen W. Bush (1968-78), Vern L. Norris (1978-86) and Roberts.

“Mark has spent the past 14 years as a highly effective assistant director for the MHSAA,” said Representative Council President Scott Grimes, who serves as Assistant Superintendent of Human Services for Grand Haven Area Public Schools. “He is a proven leader in the organization committed to providing outstanding service to both internal and external constituents. The positive relationships he has fostered with school administrators will help make this a very smooth transition.”

Prior to his time at the MHSAA, Uyl first taught and coached and then served as athletic director and assistant principal at Middleville-Thornapple Kellogg High School, the latter from 2001-03. Before becoming an administrator there, Uyl served as athletic director at Caledonia High School in 2000-01.

During his tenure as an assistant director at the MHSAA, Uyl also served a four-year term on the Baseball Committee for the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).

“Mark was the obvious choice to become the next executive director of the MHSAA,” Roberts said. “Mark has the proper student-focused perspective of educational athletics, excellent person-to-person communications skills and a deep practical understanding of what is happening day to day in school sports in our state and nationally.”

Uyl graduated from Caledonia High School in 1992, and from Calvin College in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in history and physical education. He later received a master’s in educational leadership from Grand Valley State University. At Calvin, Uyl was a four-year starter on the baseball team, earning all-conference honors twice and serving as team captain.

Uyl resides in DeWitt with his wife Marcy, an accomplished educator and coach who has served as a high school varsity basketball coach since 1994. They have three children: Jackson (17), Grant (15) and Madison (11).

The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.4 million spectators each year.

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How basketball games should be


The Hawks Nest student section during the pink out game against Lowell last Friday, January 26. Photo by K&R Lalone.

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Red Hawks’ student section—the Hawks Nest—just barely missed making it as a top three finalist for MHSAA’s Battle of the Fans VII. But they are winners none-the-less.

“Our student body has been absolutely fantastic this year. In fact, I believe it has been the best it has been in many years,” said teacher and coach Justin Harnden, who has been working with the student Athletic Leadership Council to create a culture that positive and supportive for all fans and teams. “A large amount of students have taken the challenge of changing the culture of our student section and making it a positive experience for everyone.”  

Cedar Springs was chosen as one of nine semi-finalists and one of three in Class A, on January 16. They then had 12 days to step up their game and show what they could do, and record it on social media. On January 23, almost 1,000 students cheered on a Special Olympics basketball game between Cedar Springs and Sparta—and they cheered for both sides. They also cheered at pink out games for girls and boys basketball. During last Friday’s pink out boys basketball game against Lowell, the positive spirit they showed made a big impact on at least one of the opposing team’s fans.  

Joel Fritsma, a Red Arrow fan, posted this on Twitter: “Shoutout to @CedarALC for the hospitality Friday night! The pink out was really fitting. Quite the SS you guys have put together this year! Keep up the great work, and best of luck towards moving on in the #BOTF rankings! – A Lowell Student #HowBasketballGamesShouldBe”

Harnden said that sentiment really exemplies all that they have done this year. 

“There have been a large amount of great moments the past two sports seasons that are highlighted with one of the largest sections we have ever had for our Lowell football game, and partnering with the school Be Nice campaign for our Glow Out Bullying basketball game,” he said.

“While we were disappointed that we didn’t make the finals, everyone here is extremely proud of all the we have done and we absolutely will try again next year. The upperclassmen that we currently have put forth so much effort into the shift and they have laid the groundwork for everyone else to follow.”  

Harnden hopes the positive impact of the campaign extends beyond school walls. “I hope that the positive shift resonates with not just our students, but our community as well. Everyone leading and pushing in a supportive way makes the games so much fun to be a part of and when we can lead the shift out of the student section we can make a much bigger difference in the lives of many other people,” he explained. 

Boyne City, Buchanan and Petoskey were selected as finalists by MHSAA’s Student Advisory Council. Voting among the top five semifinalists was particularly close, according to the MHSAA. Cedar Springs and Charlotte just missed earning spots among the top three. Munising, Negaunee, Pellston and Traverse City West also were among the semifinalists.

“Charlotte and Cedar Springs were very close to becoming part of this year’s finalists tour,” said Andy Frushour, MHSAA director of brand management and advisor to the Student Advisory Council. “Both have established incredible fan cultures, and we certainly plan on seeing them in this contest again next year.”
Harnden agrees. 

“This year semi-finalists; next year champions,” he said.

Visit CedarSpringsTV on youtube.com to see several examples of the Hawks Nest in action during Battle of the Fans VII.

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Hawks Nest moves to semifinals in Battle of the Fans


Cedar Springs is one of nine schools across the state competing to win the “Battle of the Fans.” Courtesy photo.

Every athlete knows that there is a member of the team that doesn’t play on the field or court with them, but they are part of the team just the same—and that’s the fans that cheer them on. Anyone who has been to a Cedar Springs Red Hawks sporting event knows that the student section—the Hawks Nest—is one of the best around. And now the student section has a chance to prove it.

Teacher and Coach Justin Harnden has been working with the Athletic Leadership Council at the school to create a culture that’s positive and supportive to all fans and teams—including the opposing ones. And Tuesday morning he saw some of the fruits of that labor when it was announced by the MHSAA that Cedar Springs was one of nine schools chosen to continue on to the semifinals in the “Battle of the Fans VII” contest.

The Battle of the Fans was organized by the MHSAA staff and its 16-member Student Advisory Council. Schools were invited throughout the fall to submit short videos, via YouTube, of their cheering sections in action, with the deadline Jan. 13. Nine semifinalists were announced on Tuesday, January 16: Cedar Springs, Petoskey and Traverse City West from Class A; Boyne City, Buchanan and Charlotte from Class B; and Munising, Negaunee and Pellston from Class C/D. 

Instead of choosing five finalists as in past years, the Advisory Council selected nine semifinalists to accomplish a list of tasks showing off their sections over the next 12 days–and the Council will then select three finalists for MHSAA visits.

This year’s winner will be announced Feb. 23 and recognized March 23 at the Breslin Center.

Semifinalists are required to complete 10 challenges via their social media channels by 11 p.m. Jan. 27. Five mandatory challenges focus on contest criteria: positive sportsmanship, student body participation, school spirit, originality of cheers, organization of the group, student section leadership and overall fun.

Five elective challenges (taken from a list of 15 opportunities) will allow semifinalists more opportunities to show the unique characteristics that make their sections elite. 

“Our Student Advisory Council wanted to keep more of these great student sections involved in Battle of the Fans longer, and also make sure our best sections were showing their best on more than just the days they applied and we visited,” said Andy Frushour, MHSAA director of brand management and advisor to the Student Advisory Council. “The ‘Challenge Round’ sets up a true competition as these nine schools watch and try to outdo each other’s best work over the next 12 days. We’re excited to watch them step up their games to answer the competition.”

Harnden was pleased that they had been chosen to head on to the semifinals. “We have a lot of work to do, but we are up for it,” he said.

A total of 19 schools applied for this year’s contest – seven from Class A schools, six from Class B, four from Class C and two from Class D. Three semifinalists each were selected from the Class A, Class B and Class C/D applicants.

The Student Advisory Council will select the finalists for announcement Jan. 29 on Second Half. MHSAA staff and Student Advisory Council members will visit all three finalists for home basketball games during the second half of this regular season, with coverage and video from those visits and the announcement of the winner all to be published on Second Half.

The winner will be selected by another Advisory Council vote based in part on activity on the MHSAA’s social media sites. All social media postings regarding Battle of the Fans VII should include the hashtag #BOTF. The MHSAA will share semifinalists’ challenge posts over the next two weeks on its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram sites and Snapchat feed. The MHSAA also will post from the three finalists visits on those channels.

Cedar Springs will be using their social media sites on Facebook (CSHS Athletic Leadership Council) and Twitter (@CedarALC). Don’t forget to check them out and share their content!

To see the application video they put together, go to YouTube and search for CedarSpringsTV. Click on it, and then you will see their “Battle of the Fans” video listed.

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Wrestling additions highlight winter sports rules changes 


 

From the MHSAA

New this winter, wrestlers in the down position will continue competing as long as the supporting point(s) of either wrestler are inbounds. Previously, wrestling stopped when one competitor’s supporting point(s) went out of bounds.

This change creates a larger scoring area and is intended to reduce match stoppages that take place when action moves out of bounds. Supporting points include the parts of the body touching, or within, the wrestling area that bear the wrestler’s weight, other than those parts with which the wrestler is holding the opponent.

 Also in wrestling this season, two-piece uniforms are allowed as well as the traditional singlet provided the two-piece uniform follows a list of requirements and does not extend below the knee. In addition, to enhance safety, three maneuvers were made illegal including a front flip or hurdle over an opponent who is in the standing position. 

 A few notable rules changes in basketball and swimming and diving also will be apparent this winter:

 *In basketball, an official may now provide an official warning to the head coach—with that warning then recorded in the scorebook—or misconduct by the coach or other bench personnel, including players in and outside the coaching box. This warning is intended to make the message clear that there is misconduct and promote a change in behavior before a technical foul is called. However, a warning is not required prior to calling a technical foul if the misconduct is determined to be major. 

 *As with Lower Peninsula girls season in the fall, to promote safer take-offs during boys and Upper Peninsula girls swimming relays this winter, the second, third and fourth swimmers must have at least one foot in contact with the starting platform in front of the starting block wedge during take-off. Those second, third and fourths swimmers may not take off with both feet on top of the starting block wedge.

*Divers in the Lower Peninsula will need only four regular-season wins (instead of the previous five) to qualify for the Regional Diving Qualification Meet. A diver also may qualify if he places ahead of all divers from opposing schools in varsity competition in at least four meets, even if he does not finish ahead of his teammates. (This applies only in the Lower Peninsula where Regionals are conducted; Upper Peninsula divers qualify for Finals based on regular-season performance.)

 The 2017-18 Winter campaign culminates with postseason tournaments beginning with the Upper Peninsula Girls and Boys Swimming & Diving Finals on Feb. 17, and wraps up with the Boys Basketball Finals on March 24. A reminder: The MHSAA Individual Wrestling Finals that are moving to Ford Field will be a two-day event this winter as opposed to a three-day event as in past seasons.

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MHSAA announces concussion report findings


2016-17 school year

The Michigan High School Athletic Association has completed its second year of collecting head injury reports from member schools and continues to build data that will assist in identifying trends and progress being made to reduce the incidence of head injuries in school sports.

Following a first mandate to do so in 2015-16, member schools again were required to report head injuries to the MHSAA identifying the sport that each student-athlete was participating in and whether the injury was sustained during practice or competition. As reporting for the 2017-18 school year is now underway, schools again are required to designate if potential concussions occur during competition or practice and at which level—varsity, junior varsity or freshman.

The full report of all head injuries experienced during 2016-17 by student-athletes at MHSAA member high schools—including percentages by sport (per 1,000 participants), gender and team level, as well as data tracking when athletes returned to play—is available on the Health & Safety page of the MHSAA Website at https://www.mhsaa.com/portals/0/Documents/health%20safety/concussionreport1617.pdf.

As with the first year of reporting, the MHSAA received data from more than 99 percent of its member high schools after the fall, winter and spring seasons and continued to track each injury report through its conclusion this summer. Member junior high and middle schools also were allowed, although not mandated, to report their potential head injuries; and those findings are not part of the published report.

The 2016-17 concussion report found an 11-percent decrease in the number of confirmed concussions from the previous year. Student-athletes at MHSAA member high schools encountered during 2016-17 a total of 3,958 head injuries—or 5.2 per member school, similar but lower than the 2015-16 average of 5.9. Total participation in MHSAA sports for 2016-17 was 283,625, with students counted once for each sport he or she played and only 1.4 percent of participants experienced a head injury; that percentage in 2015-16 was 1.6.

Although the total number of confirmed concussions was significantly lower in 2016-17, a number of findings detailing those injuries fell in line with results of the 2015-16 survey.

Boys experienced 2,607—or 66 percent—of those injuries, nearly the same ratio as 2015-16 and as boys participation in sports, especially contact sports, remained higher than girls. More than half of head injuries—55 percent—were experienced by varsity athletes, which also fell within a percent difference of last year’s findings.

A total of 2,973 head injuries—or 65 percent—came in competition as opposed to practice. More than half took place during either the middle of practice or middle of competition as opposed to the start or end, and 52 percent of injuries were a result of person-to-person contact. The largest percentage of athletes—27 percent—returned to activity after 6 to 10 days, while 23 percent of those who suffered head injuries returned after 11-15 days of rest. All of these findings were within 1-4 percent of those discovered from the 2015-16 data.

Contact sports again revealed the most head injuries. Ranking first was football, 11 and 8-player combined, with 44 head injuries per 1,000 participants—a decrease of five head injuries per 1,000 participants from 2015-16. Ice hockey repeated with the second-most injuries per 1,000, with 36 (down two injuries per 1,000 from 2015-16), and girls soccer was again third with 28 head injuries per 1,000 participants (also down two from the previous year).

In fact, after football and hockey, the next four sports to show the highest incidences of head injuries were girls sports—girls soccer followed by girls basketball (23 per 1,000), girls competitive cheer (22) and girls lacrosse (20). Although girls basketball moved up from fifth to fourth for highest ratio, it did see a decline of six injuries per 1,000 participants from 2015-16.

Startling indications of another potential trend were seen again in the number of reported head injuries suffered by girls and boys playing the same sports. Soccer, basketball and baseball/softball are played under identical or nearly identical rules. Just as in 2015-16, females in those sports reported significantly more concussions than males playing the same or similar sport.

Female soccer players reported double the concussions per 1,000 participants as male soccer players, while female basketball players reported nearly triple the number of concussions per 1,000 participants (23 to 8). Softball players reported 11 concussions per 1,000 participants, and baseball players reported four per 1,000. The numbers from all three comparisons remained consistent from what the survey found in 2015-16.

It is the hope that Michigan’s universities, health care systems and the National Federation of State High School Associations will take part in analyzing the data and questions that have arisen during the past two years. Michigan State University’s Institute for the Study of Youth Sports submitted a paper titled “Gender Differences in Youth Sports Concussion” based on the 2015-16 results, and that subject will remain closely monitored in 2017-18 and beyond.

“The Institute’s research concluded that there is merit for believing females may be more susceptible than males to having concussions because of structural differences to the neck and head, and also due to neurological differences in the brains of females and males. But the findings also show merit for believing females may be more honest in reporting concussions,” said MHSAA Executive Director John E. “Jack” Roberts.

“We need to find out why. Are girls just more willing to report the injury? Are boys hiding it? These are some of our most important questions moving forward, and they will be critical in our efforts to educate athletes, their parents and coaches on the importance of reporting and receiving care for these injuries immediately.”

Roberts said that while it’s significant to note the similarity in statistics over the first two years of injury report collection, the lower percentages in 2016-17 don’t necessarily represent a trend; that conclusion can only be made after more data is collected in years to come. Some differences in data from the first year to the second could be the result of schools’ increased familiarity with the reporting system, the refinement of the follow-up reporting procedure and other survey error that is expected to decrease with future surveys.

“Our first survey in 2015-16 raised some initial themes, and the data we collected this past year and will continue to collect will help us identify the trends that will guide our next steps in reducing head injuries in interscholastic athletics,” Roberts said. “However, the necessity for more data to determine these trends should not delay our efforts to experiment with more head protection and modified play and practice rules in contact sports like ice hockey, soccer, wrestling and lacrosse, which all ranked among the top 10 sports for numbers of head injuries per thousand participants.

“We will continue to look for ways to make our good games better and our healthy games safer, and the collection of this data will continue to prove key as we work toward those goals.”

Schools report possible concussions online via the MHSAA Website. Reports are then examined by members of the MHSAA staff, who follow up with school administrators as those student-athletes continue to receive care and eventually return to play. Student privacy is protected.

The reporting of possible concussions is part of a three-pronged advance by the MHSAA in concussion care begun during the 2015-16 school year. The MHSAA completed this past spring (2017) the largest-ever state high school association sideline concussion testing pilot program, with a sample of schools from across the state over the last two years using one of two screening tests designed to detect concussions. The second year of the pilot program (2016-17) allowed participating schools to use the sideline detection tests in all sports but mandated they be used in sports (11 total over three seasons) showing the highest prevalence of concussions.

The MHSAA also was the first state association to provide all participants at every member high school and junior high/middle school with insurance intended to pay accident medical expense benefits—covering deductibles and co-pays left unpaid by other policies—resulting from head injuries sustained during school practices or competitions and at no cost to either schools or families. During 2016-17, a total of 139 claims were made—20 fewer than in 2015-16—with  football (44) and girls basketball (27) the sports most cited in those claims for the second straight year.

Previously, the MHSAA also was among the first state associations to adopt a return-to-play protocol that keeps an athlete out of activity until at least the next day after a suspected concussion, and allows that athlete to return to play only after he or she has been cleared unconditionally for activity by a doctor (M.D. or D.O.), physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner.

In addition, the MHSAA’s Coaches Advancement Program, which includes courses that must be completed by all varsity head coaches hired for the first time at a member school, has augmented for this fall its already substantial instruction on concussion care. Separately, rules meetings that are required viewing for all varsity and subvarsity head and assistant coaches at the start of each season include detailed training on caring for athletes with possible head injuries.

 

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High School Track successful at State


Brandon Sawade with Coach Lett.

Cedar Springs senior Tara Tepin, junior Brandon Sawade, and senior Alex Douglas all competed at the MHSAA Division 2 State Track finals.

Coach Rob Neier, senior Tara Tepin, and Coach Covey.

On Saturday, June 3, at Zeeland Stadium, three members of the boys and girls track team competed in the MHSAA Division 2 State Finals Track Meet.

Senior Tara Tepin placed in both the 100 and 300 meter hurdles and earned all state honors. Tara lowered her school record in the 100-meter hurdles in the prelim race to 15.26 to qualify for the finals, where she placed fifth with a time of 15.34. Tara ran the 300 hurdles in 46.79, just short of her school record in that event, for eighth place. Tara also earned academic all state in both events.

Junior Brandon Sawade and senior Alex Douglas competed in the meet for the boys team. Brandon placed fourth in the pole vault with a jump of 13 feet 7 inches and earned all state honors. Alex competed in the 110-meter hurdles and ran a time of 15.52 in his preliminary race, but did not advance to the finals in the event. Alex placed 12th overall in the event.

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