Cal-Mum Coach Fosters Concussion Discussion with Congress

By: Cristina Domingues, Time Warner Cable News


The athletic director of the Caledonia-Mumford School District testified before Congress Thursday about the impact of concussions on high school athletes.

For the last few years, Caledonia-Mumford has been testing students in grades six through 12 for concussions. It is an idea Athletic Director Mike Monacelli said he picked up when attending a conference years ago.

He told members of Congress about the program Cal-Mum is using and how it is helping coaches keep their players safe.

"Last year, Congressman Andrews, Congresswoman Bono Mack and I asked the Government Accountability Office to look into concussions in high school athletics after several professional athletes suffered debilitating and news-making head injuries diagnosed as concussions. It was clear to us that if the NFL was paying attention to concussions at the pro level, we should be doing the same at the high level as students bodies are still growing and more vulnerable," said Congressman George Williams, House Education and Labor Committee.

This is the first such meeting the House Education and Labor Committee held on the matter.

Testifying alongside a doctor and student athlete was Monacelli, who has been coaching for 40 years and has led Caledonia-Mumford to five state football championships.

Monacelli said the school's concussion testing software program called ImPACT helps detect concussions in students so that educators are aware of the problem and, with doctors, can determine when kids can safely return to play.

"As a coach under the present system, I am much more comfortable with relying on the post-testing and re-entry protocol to aid in determining when an athlete is ready to compete or not," Monacelli said. "No real amount of thought was put into how severe the concussion was in the past just when they could play. Second-impact syndrome was not in our thoughts at all. Now we know that a second blow to the head while recovering from the first concussion is dangerous. It takes a lot less force to re-injure the brain."

Monacelli told the congressional committee that parents are behind the program in the Cal-Mum district and more and more educators are now also learning to look for symptoms.

He also testified that coaches need to be trained about these injuries and need support from their districts to implement programs similar to Caledonia-Mumford's program. - See more at: