Gil Cloud has seen this before. The Tulsa Public Schools athletic director has been in sports his entire life and that has included seeing his share of tragic injuries. Gil told KRMG the coaches at TPS are all trained in how to avoid these kinds of injuries “we require all of our coaches to watch the concussion video that outlines how you teach tackling and blocking.” Cloud said after the serious injury to Tulane’s Devon Walker, he expected to hear from some concerned parents. “When they see something like occurred Saturday it’s kind of a wakeup call, my son is playing or my daughter is playing.”
Gil told KRMG that all TPS coaches are told to cover some tough topics with parents and players. “You have to go through three steps with your parents” he began. “You could be a paraplegic, you could be a quadriplegic, or you could die with improper use of this helmet” Gil finished.
Gil said after Walkers injury, it’s a good time to remind everyone about the basics. “All our coaches are very cognizant about what happened and will be concerned about talking to their kids today as they go to practice to learn the lesson.” And that lesson is? “You need to see what you’re blocking, you need to see what you’re tackling.” What Gil is referring to is trying to get players to keep their head up when they are taking or creating contact. The reason is simple “If your head is down, there is a good chance if you have a blow to the head that you’re going to have an injury of some kind” Cloud noted.
Gils said getting that point across is tough because of history. “To get your kids to get out of that mentality when they have watched it since they were five years old on television is a more difficult thing” Gil said.
Cloud leaned back in his chair as he told us part of the problem comes because players are bigger, stronger, and faster than ever. “I’m not a physics professor but I can tell you a body in motion at 300 pounds running a sub 5.0 40 yard dash, that’s a mass you don’t want to be in front of.”
Tulane’s Walker is in stable condition at St. Francis hospital after surgery for a fractured spine. Doctors say it’s too early to know how complete a recovery he can have. Tulsa and Tulane have set up a fund to assist Walker’s family with expenses while they are here with their son. You can donate by clicking here.