HS football teams could be ineligible to play

August 12, 2010 9:03:47 PM PDT
High school football players and coaches in Durham have been practicing all summer for their season to kick off next week, but budget cuts could make their first game of the season their last.At Northern Durham High School two critical positions for players' safety is missing from the team's sidelines.

"We knew there would be some athletic cuts coming somewhere we didn't know how extreme they were going to be," Northern Durham High School Head Coach Anthony Sullivan said.

The cuts made just last week stripped Northern Durham and all DPS schools of their athletic director and trainers.

"We had a scare just the other day where we had to call an ambulance and that would have never happened cause we would have never known had we not had our athletic director," Sullivan said.

Sullivan says he, like many coaches, is concerned for players' safety.

"Across the state and across the country we've had so many injuries and deaths especially with the sport that we play that we can't make do without an athletic trainer," Sullivan said.

Scares like Chapel Hill High School football player Atlas Fraley's death back in 2008 are why North Carolina's High School Athletic Association has made it mandatory for every high school to have a trained first responder on their team.

So now many are wondering will DPS teams like Northern Durham be able to go from the practice field to the game field this season without one.

"Not having an athletic director not having an athletic trainer, I could see that as potential of dropping athletics period and that would set us back probably three decades," Sullivan said.

On Thursday, a handful of athletic directors and trainers voiced their concern during a Durham public schools meeting.

Most say they are still working even though they aren't being compensated. However, board members promised they would work to find the money to pay them.

The issue has been put on the agenda for the next board meeting later this month.

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