By Casey Phillips
Moms are the queens of safety. So who better to educate about proper tackling technique, football equipment, and health tips while their kids play the nation's most popular sport?
That's where the first ever Moms Football Safety Clinic comes in to play.
"I know moms like to Google things on the Internet and that can be a scary thing," said NFL Youth Football Consultant Chris Golic. "I know there are moms here deciding if their kids will play football or not. I just want to arm them with information, make them aware of the changes happening in regards to football, and let them come to their own conclusions…and let them make a decision based on fact rather than fear."
There were more than 55 mothers in attendance at One Buc Place representing students who play for youth and high school teams around the Tampa Bay area. The clinic kicked off with Heads Up Football Master Trainer Tod Creneti demonstrating how to properly fit football equipment for youth athletes, including allowing the mothers to try on a helmet.
"Mom's hold a key to the future of youth football in our country", said Eileen Sweeney, Director of Community Relations for the Buccaneers. "We here at the Bucs feel sharing this important information with women will help create a healthy and safer game for our children."
Because injury prevention and recovery is about more than just equipment, All Children's Hospital Sports Medicine Physician Dr. Carlos Rodriguez educated mothers on concussions and popular misconceptions. For example, loss of consciousness does not signify that a concussion is more severe than one where the athlete never lost consciousness. Registered Dietician Sarah Krieger, also from All Children's Hospital, was on hand to speak to the mothers about proper nutrition and hydration tips.
Local moms joined health specialists at One Buc Place for the first ever Moms Football Safety Clinic, focused on creating a safer game. Also featured was a Moms Panel with Chris Golic & wives/moms of Bucs coaches and players.
Sifting through all the safety information about football can be a daunting task. So the Bucs decided why not let moms hear from other moms who have spent their lives around the sport? Chris Golic, wife of former NFL player and current ESPN personality Mike Golic, MaryAnne Smith, wife of Buccaneers' head coach Lovie Smith, Amy Nickerson, wife of Buccaneers legend and current linebackers coach Hardy Nickerson, and Schenique Harris, mother of Buccaneers cornerback Leonard Johnson, formed a panel discussing their experiences and reasons for encouraging their children to play.
"It was good to hear from someone who is going through the same things I'm going through right now," said mother of twin 12-year-old boys, Temakia Dunning. "That helped me out a lot to deal with some of the emotions I'm going through with my kids."
Then it was time for the mothers to put their newfound knowledge to the test on the practice field with tackling drills led by Creneti and Buccaneers legend and Heads Up Football Ambassador Dave Moore. Yes, there were moms breaking down, buzzing their feet, and hitting tackle dummies on the Buccaneers practice field, and it was as awesome as everything you are picturing.
"I heard a few moms have already uploaded video of me tackling onto Facebook, so I'm a little nervous about that," Dunning said laughing. "Seeing the proper way to tackle, right now the kids aren't doing it right, so I can be the voice of reason saying 'Hey head up, shift it to the side.'"
"Moms need to know if their son is tackling properly," said Lovie Smith's wife MaryAnne. "I remember screaming at my son to get his head up and to hit the numbers, and I learned that from Lovie. Some moms don't have Lovie, so they need someone to teach them this stuff. That's the beauty of this event."