Three years ago, a Seattle jury awarded $6.3 million in damages to a former high school football player who suffered a neck injury. School administrators, athletic directors and coaches have learned that the possibility of liability and contributory negligence is real.
In response to this situation some nearby states like West Virginia and North Carolina have enacted legislation that secondary schools must hire certified professional athletic trainers to better protect themselves in the world of insurance claims and civil litigation. A similar bill has been introduced in the Maryland state legislature the last two sessions but was quietly killed due to local concerns about the program's cost.
Montgomery County has one paid trainer at Bethesda-Chevy Chase (Allen Alper) and Springbrook teacher Gary Frace is hoping to be certified, and few of the other 20 high schools have such coverage. Pat Barry, county director of girls physical education and athletics, has recognized the potential danger and has scheduled a minicourse in recognition and management of athletic injuries for coaches and other interested school personnel.
Dr. Wayne Leadbetter of the Shady Grove Sports Medicine Clinic will direct the four-night clinic with Montgomery College athletic trainer Steve Loy. Earlier this summer, Leadbetter ran a similar six-day course open to the public. Among the 20 attendees were five high school students from Walter Johnson and Springbrook who were interested in becoming student trainers.
"If there's sufficient interest, I hope that we can instruct student trainers so that eventually there'll be at least one in every county high school," said Leadbetter, a Rockville orthopedic surgeon who serves as chairman of the Montgomery County Medical Society's sports medicine committee. "These students can't act as professional trainers but will be able to assist with taping, basic first-aid and other related duties. They can save coaches' time and offer needed service in this area."
Storer Cable will televise the first local high school football game on Sunday when De Matha plays H. D. Woodson at Northwestern High School. The game matches last year's Metro Conference champions against the Interhigh City champion. Woodson was ranked No. 1 last year, while the Stags were No. 2. It's a new season with different teams, but there'll still be plenty of interest even though the game is scheduled at the same time as the Redskins-Eagles contest.
Montgomery County is considering authorizing the cable telecast of a volleyball game between Gaithersburg and Springbrook in October. Although the details have not yet been worked out, county athletic officials and Montgomery County Cable, which won the county franchise last April, are interested in trying it as a test.
Because the fledgling cable system (which is in operation in Gaithersburg) has only two cameras, volleyball, which is the only fall indoor sport was chosen.
Walter Johnson has a new football coach. Assistant Guy Borelli succeeds Billy Jones. Borelli is a no-nonsense type who briefly served as Redskins' strength coach under Jack Pardee.
The emphasis on fitness in high school athletics has even reached the coaching ranks where longtime High Point football Coach John Voight has shed more than 70 pounds and is approaching the sub-200 pound mark.
Ray Wrenn has been selected as the new commissioner of the Catholic Girls Athletic Association. A former assistant athletic director at Good Counsel and Bullis, he's a retired District policeman who was instrumental in initiating the Metropolitan Police Boys and Girls Clubs. He succeeds Al Battista, who resigned in July.