‘The Smartest Team’ imparts smart lessons for high school football

Smart lessons for high school football

Dr. Joseph Congeni


High school football is in full swing, and never has there been more concern about the risks of concussion. Ohio high school coaches, trainers, parents and players could learn much from Newcastle High School in central Oklahoma, which used education and other interventions to reduce the number of its football players suffering concussions by 75 percent over one season.

 “The Smartest Team,” an hour-long documentary to be broadcast on several Ohio PBS stations in October, focuses on the proven strategies that reduced the risk of concussion among Newcastle players – strategies that can work in any community.

 The documentary, produced by Brooke de Lench, founder and publisher of and author of Home Team Advantage: The Critical Role of Mothers in Youth Sports, features nationally-known experts such as William Meehan, MD, director of the Sports Concussion Clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital, and Joseph Congeni, MD, director of Sports Medicine at Akron Children’s Hospital. Other experts include Rosemarie Scolaro Moser, Ph.D., director of the Sports Concussion Center of New Jersey, and Bobby Hosea, a coach and developer of the Head Free Tackle™ method.

 “ ‘The Smartest Team’ grew out of an email I received from the mother of a Newcastle High School football player asking for my help in setting up a concussion risk management program for her son’s team,” said de Lench. “I decided the best way MomsTEAM  and I could educate the largest number of parents, players, athletic trainers, and coaches was not just to help the Newcastle Racers set up their program but to capture it on film and make it available to a wider audience.”

 The film focuses on the “Six Pillars” of a comprehensive concussion risk management program:

“I am honored to have been invited to be part of this project,” said Dr. Congeni, who led educational sessions about concussion to the parents of the Newcastle football players. “Brooke de Lench and her team know the best way to protect young athletes is through education and this film covers the six key areas we can target to make a real difference.”

 In addition to education, Dr. Congeni points to the role of advocacy and public policy in protecting young athletes. Last year, he helped lead the effort to pass a law in Ohio that requires better education in the signs and symptoms of concussion for parents of young athletes, better training for coaches, and written approval by an authorized physician or licensed health care provider for a concussed athlete to return to play.

 “The Smartest Team” will be shown in northeast Ohio on Oct. 8 at 11 pm on WNEO/WEAO Western Reserve Public Media and on Oct. 9 at 10 pm on WVIZ TV. In Central Ohio, the documentary will be shown in Oct. 20 at 2 pm on WOSU as part of the Sunday Showcase.





 Now beginning its 14thyear, is the premier youth sports parenting information gateway for America’s 90 million sports parents. The site currently offers more than 10,000 pages of continually updated health and safety, parenting, nutrition and sports information news, forums, blogs, and advice from a team of leading experts, veteran sport parents, and Olympic athletes. Good Housekeeping magazine selected MomsTEAM as one of the top three websites for sports parents. MomsTEAM was recently selected as a content provider to the National Football League’s health and safety website, NFL

About Akron Children’s Hospital

Ranked a Best Children’s Hospital by US News & World Report, Akron Children’s is the largest pediatric provider in northeast Ohio. With two pediatric hospitals, as well as 20 primary care and nearly 70 pediatric specialty locations, our dedicated staff handles more than 650,000 patient visits a year. We also serve as a major teaching affiliate of Northeast Ohio Medical University, and offer a number of pediatric subspecialty fellowship programs. In addition to our commitment to providing quality, family-centered care, we also strive to find ways to advance the prevention and treatment of childhood illness and injury through research. For more information, visit

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