Seventy youth football leagues in the Oakland area have committed to the future of youth football by adopting a new USA Football program dedicated to making the game better and safer. The Heads Up Football program ensures a positive youth football experience and advances player safety by providing leaguewide coaching education and teaching resources that benefit players, parents and coaches.
USA Football is the official youth development partner of the NFL, the Raiders and the league's other 31 teams. These youth leagues are among more than 900 youth football organizations that will incorporate Heads Up Football into its 2013 season.
"We are pleased to work with Heads Up Football to promote and encourage the correct instruction and enjoyment of the game of football, which offers many rewards for children in our community," said Oakland Raiders Chief Executive Amy Trask.
Former University of California and NFL All-Pro linebacker Hardy Nickerson will work alongside select area leagues throughout the 2013 season as an NFL Ambassador. Nickerson played 16 NFL seasons, mostly with the Steelers and Buccaneers. He has 1,586 career tackles and was named to the NFL's 1990s All-Decade Team.
Former Raiders serving as NFL Ambassadors include Eric Allen (San Diego, Calif.) and LaMont Jordan (Washington, D.C.).
Participating league coaches will be trained in Heads Up Football techniques before leading their teams this season. All head coaches and assistant coaches will complete USA Football's accredited Level 1 Coach Certification Course, which includes Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concussion recognition and response protocols; proper helmet and shoulder pad fitting; and Heads Up Tackling techniques, which aim to take the head out of the line of contact.
Parents can help ensure their youth football players are participating in a better and safer brand of football, by visiting www.USAFootball.com, where they can enroll their league to be a Heads Up Football league and ensure that their coach is certified.
Area leagues showing a commitment to players and coaches through Heads Up Football membership:
Antioch Youth Football Antioch, Calif.
Benicia Panthers Youth Football and Cheer Benicia, Calif.
Bay Area Gorillas Youth Football & Cheer San Jose, Calif.
Big Valley Sabres Youth Football and Cheer Modesto, Calif.
Central Marin Chargers Football San Rafael, Calif.
Central Saints Youth Football and Cheer Modesto, Calif.
Central Valley Jets Youth Football & Cheer Manteca, Calif.
Central Valley Panthers Youth Football and Cheer Salida, Calif.
Central Valley/Modesto Raiders Youth Football And Cheer Modesto, Calif.
Ceres Falcons Youth Football Modesto, Calif.
Clayton Valley Falcons Football & Cheer Clayton, Calif.
Concord Youth Football and Cheer Concord, Calif.
Deer Valley Youth Football Association Antioch, Calif.
Delta Valley Wolfpack Stockton, Calif.
Delta Valley Wolfpack Football and Cheer Antioch, Calif.
East County Lions Youth Football Oakley, Calif.
Edison Jr. Vikings Stockton, Calif.
Galt Jr. Warriors Football & Cheerleading Galt, Calif.
Gustine Youth Football Redskins Gustine, Calif.
Hayward Earthquakes Youth Football & Cheer Hayward, Calif.
Healdsburg Bulldogs Youth Football and Cheer Healdsburg, Calif.
House Warriors Youth Football Modesto, Calif.
Jr. Pride-Turlock Riverbank, Calif.
Liberty Ranch Jr. Hawks Football & Cheer Galt, Calif.
Linden Youth Lions Football and Cheer Linden, Calif.
Lodi Colts Youth Football and Cheer Lodi, Calif.
Lodi Jr. Flames Football & Cheer Lodi, Calif.
Manteca Cowboys Youth Football Manteca, Calif.
Manteca Jaguars Youth Football and Cheer Manteca, Calif.
Martinez Youth Football & Cheer Martinez, Calif.
Mid-Peninsula Athletic Association Palo Alto, Calif.
Mission Valley Cougars Youth Football and Cheer San Jose, Calif.
Modesto Christian Kingsmen Modesto, Calif.
Modesto Patriots Riverbank, Calif.
Modesto Rams Youth Football & Cheer Modesto, Calif.
Mountain House Hurricanes Youth Football Mountain House, Calif.
Napa Saints Youth Football & Cheer Napa, Calif.
Oakland Dynamites Youth Football and Cheer Oakland, Calif.
Oakley Raiders Oakly, Calif.
Panthers Youth Football and Cheer Tracy, Calif.
Patterson Bengals Youth Football & Cheer Patterson, Calif.
Petaluma Panthers Football and Cheerleading Petaluma, Calif.
Pittsburg Jr. Pirates Youth Football Antioch, Calif.
Pleasant Hill Rebels Youth Football and Cheer Concord, Calif.
Ravens Youth Football & Cheer Organization Patterson, Calif.
Redwood PAL Golden Bears Larkfield, Calif.
Ripon Chiefs Youth Football Ripon, Calif.
Ripon Knights Football & Cheer Ripon, Calif.
Rohnert Park Warriors Youth Football and Cheer Cotati, Calif.
Salida Steelers Youth Football Salida, Calif.
San Leandro Crusaders Football & Cheer San Leandro, Calif.
San Marin Football and Cheer Novato, Calif.
San Ramon CAL Bears Youth Football San Ramon, Calif.
San Ramon Valley Thunderbirds Football & Cheer San Ramon, Calif.
Santa Rosa Stallions Santa Rosa, Calif.
Solano Mustangs Youth Football And Cheer Fairfield, Calif.
Sonoma Jr. Dragons San Rafael, Calif.
Stockton Jr. Kings Stockton, Calif.
Tokay Jr. Tigers Youth Football and Cheer Lodi, Calif.
Tracy Buccaneers Youth Football Tracy, Calif.
Tracy Rampage Tracy, Calif.
Vacaville Christian Jr. Falcons Vacaville, Calif.
Walnut Creek Youth Football and Cheer Walnut Creek, Calif.
West County Spartans Football & Cheer Pinole, Calif.
West Pittsburg Youth Football League Bay Point, Calif.
Weston Ranch Ravens Football and Cheer French Camp, Calif.
West Coast 49ers Newman, Calif.
West County Tigers Youth Football and Cheer Sebastopol, Calif.
Westside Niners Youth Football and Cheer Newman, Calif.
Windsor Knights Youth Football and Cheer Windsor, Calif.
"The health and safety of every youth player is USA Football's No. 1 priority," USA Football Executive Director Scott Hallenbeck said. "These Oakland-area leagues show exceptional dedication to their players, parents and coaches, and we are proud to have them be part of Heads Up Football. Each of them is committed to the highest standards of player safety and coaching education in all of youth sports."
Through Heads Up Football, each league will nominate a Player Safety Coaches to be trained by USA Football. Player Safety Coaches will evaluate and monitor Heads Up Football player safety protocols within the organization as well as work with league commissioners, coaches, parents and players throughout the season to provide on-site clinics and mentoring to ensure that coaching and player safety best practices are used.
Adopted in 2013 by youth leagues on a national level, Heads Up Football requires five primary elements: Heads Up Tackling
USA Football's Heads Up Tackling technique, endorsed by medical and football experts, teaches players to keep their heads up and out of the line of contact.
Concussion recognition and response
Coaches learn and are assessed on CDC concussion recognition and response through USA Football's Level 1 Coaching Certification Course.
Coaches, parents and players are taught concussion-related protocols at the start of the season at a league-wide clinic and have them reinforced throughout the season.
All coaches within a youth program are trained to teach the game's fundamentals by completing USA Football's nationally accredited Level 1 Coaching Certification Course.
Coaches, parents and players are taught proper helmet and shoulder pad fitting.
Player Safety Coach
Appointed by each participating Heads Up Football youth organization. This individual ensures compliance with Heads Up Football's player safety protocols, including coaching certification and conducting safety clinics for coaches, parents and players.