The tragic death of DeAntre Turman comes as a shock to us all. Turman was one of Georgia’s top football players at Creekside High School in College Park, Georgia. This past Friday during a scrimmage game against Bannecker High School, Turman was involved in a collision with another player. Based on the description of the play by Creekside High School coach Glenn Ford, Turman made a break on a play and was trying to separate the ball from the player – what most would say is a common football play.
The result however was not common. Upon impact, Turman fractured his third cervical vertebra – Turman broke his neck. After being transported to the local hospital by a medical crew, Turman was announced dead hours later. Turman had a scholarship waiting for him from the University of Kentucky after he graduated high school.
With very little information given so far as to how contact was made by Turman, no one can say it was a flaw in technique that broke his neck. At this time no blame should go to any of the coaching staff or players involved. While the death of DeAntre Turman appears to be a complete freak accident, many individuals wonder if this could have been avoided. Unfortunately something of this magnitude cannot be avoided with high impact contact sports such as football. However, we can minimize the risks and make sure that each player is properly equipped and understands the fundamentals and techniques that enable them to play at a high level efficiently and safely.
The death of DeAntre Turman shook me to my core. If I were to ever lose a player on the field it would devastate me. As a former high school football coach (Defensive Coordinator/LB Coach), my goal was to make sure that players could perform all techniques needed for their positions and certain situations, and understand all basic fundamentals before we ever would go live (full-contact). I would never send a player ill-equipped out onto the field. Not knowing what to do or not being taught the correct way would get them hurt.
This brings us to a huge issue I have involving parent volunteers and inexperienced coaches. The fact that anyone with a pulse and the financial means to pay paperwork fees can coach a sport is just flat out wrong. When we’re talking about little kids, I don’t mind it so much; it’s meant to be fun and not very competitive. So having someone coach players between the ages of 4-9 without any experience is not a huge issue with me. It’s more of a painful thing to watch if anything.
When we start getting into the preteen and teenage age group (11-19), then we need to be highly concerned. These are the ages when players need to be taught the right way to play the sport immediately. Players are getting bigger, faster and stronger. This makes contact sports such as football even more dangerous. Making sure these players are safe should be our top priority. That means the proper teaching needs to be administered and burned into their subconscious. The only way the risks of injury can be lowered is through education of the sport.
I believe we need deeper background checks besides to see if the individual has a felony. There needs to be an employment and education check for jobs and education related to the sport you’re trying to coach. I believe an individual must have at least played a certain amount of years of that sport and have it verified that he/she did so. I believe that individuals need to complete more than just paperwork or a test that’s usually open book.
I believe an educational course for coaches should be implemented. Yes coaches, you’re going back to school. I believe that all coaches should understand the fundamentals and techniques and be held responsible for teaching the players the right things to do. That involves ethics. Sorry coaches, you have to actually care and know what you’re doing. In my opinion, these are very reasonable requests for hiring coaches.