Youth football coaches make more safety changes

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Ask Cheektowaga Thunderbirds Coach Joe D’Amaro about his players’ safety, and he’ll make it clear. He doesn’t mess around. “It’s important to ensure we have the right care right on time, right at the field, right at the location,” the youth coach proclaimed.

He supports the decision from the Niagara Erie Youth Sports Association (NEYSA) that will put atheletic trainers on the field for every game.

“When that injury happens, immediate care is required. Expert immediate care is required. An EMT from a fire company does not understand all the aspects of emergency athletic management for injuries,” D’Amaro suggested. He says the trainers can provide specialized care.

Last year, the Thunderbirds were part of the Jim Kelly Youth Football League. This year, they’re moving into the NEYSA. “We went with them because they are a ‘heads up’ league. They’re 100% ‘heads up’ league,” D’Amaro said.

News 4 has shown you the ‘heads up’ tackling technique before.

Coach D’Amaro says it’s already led to fewer injuries for players. Parents support the change. “I don’t worry about them. My only concern really would be maybe a broken bone or two,” Team mom Jacqueline Hearst told News 4. She has twin boys who play.

“If someone on the opposite team isn’t tackling correctly, that would be my concern,” Hearst noted.

Coach D’Amaro admits that’s a real concern. “My responsibility is to ensure that youth football in WNY is not only safe, but fun for the kids.”

It will cost NEYSA $21,000 to have the trainers on the field during the season that runs from late July into October.

The Thunderbirds will be hosting spring football camps Saturdays during the month of April. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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