John Byrne
USA Football held a free clinic on Saturday at Sparks High School for area players and coaches.

Last weekend, 125 Northern Nevada youth, Pop Warner and high school football coaches gathered at Sparks High School to participate in a free Heads-Up Football Clinic hosted by USA Football. The cost for the clinic was underwritten by the Oakland Raiders, the NFL pro football team that is planning to move to Las Vegas in 2020.

The four-hour clinic that Washoe County School District coaches participated in was created by medical specialists and football experts as part of the USA Football program introduced in 2012. The on-field clinic includes topics surrounding proper shoulder tackling/blocking techniques; how to recognize a concussion and response; proper equipment fitting; heat and hydration awareness; and how to deal with emergencies on the field. Coaches also got productive and efficient training practices and were taught proven concepts in relaying proper contact for the safety in youth football.

“Since (2012), more than 600,000 coaches have been certified,” says USA Football spokesperson Steve Alic about how many people have participated in the Heads-Up Football Clinic. “In 21st century football, education is key when it comes to smarter sports,” he adds. He says that before 2012, there was no national standard for coaches in how they taught football.

Regarding the Raiders’ covering the cost for coaches in Nevada to be certified through USA Football, Alic says, “I give the Raiders a lot of credit for underwriting last weekend’s clinic. There’s a standard saying in football to have a ‘commitment to excellence’ and that extends off the field, too. The Raiders stand among a number of NFL clubs when it comes to putting their community first; they go the extra yard. Their focus on Northern Nevada as well as Southern Nevada shows the emphasis they place on community and programs like this.”

The Raiders also recently participated in the 2019 Special Olympics Nevada Summer Games held in Reno, beginning the day by hosting a Raider Nation on Location (RNOL) at a health fair at the Boys and Girls Club of Truckee Meadows Pennington facility. Raiders alumni and the Raiderettes were on hand to chat with Special Olympics athletes and the community as well as encourage them to get screened by trained clinicians regarding physical therapy, dental, podiatry, emotional wellness, and physical exams. RNOL also brought games such as Plinko and the Quarterback Pass to give fans an opportunity to win Raiders gear. Later that evening, the Raiders also escorted Nevada law enforcement in presenting the “Flame of Hope” Special Olympics torch and lighting the cauldron for its opening ceremony.

Sparks High School football coach Bradley Rose was thrilled to be a part of the clinic and was looking forward to having it hosted at his school.

“(Raiders) management reached out to all Northern Nevada schools 2-3 months ago and we offered to be the host school,” he says. “I think they’re working their way on getting involved in Nevada and with the high school being one of the oldest sites in Northern Nevada I think it brings a lot of excitement to the area,” Rose said a day before the clinic took place. With football head injuries becoming a big issue in the news lately, Rose says he was looking forward to furthering his own education on tackling and player safety and that it’s important for all coaches to participate in a clinic like this to support the future of the game.

And as far as the Raiders becoming involved, Rose says, “The Raiders have a big following out here and I think it’s awesome that Oakland’s getting involved in Northern Nevada. I’m sure they’ll grow their fan base (by initiating the coaches’ clinic).”

The Raiders also recently covered the costs for a Heads-Up Football Clinic in Southern Nevada at Spring Valley High School in Las Vegas that 150 youth coaches and parents participated in. For more information about the Raiders’ Commitment to the Community, visit https://