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Monday, August 29, 2011
Concussions Addressed In New State Law And MSHSL Policy
A new Minnesota State Law that goes into effect at the start of the 2011-12 school year addresses the issue of concussions for youth athletics in the state.
 
The law says that any coach or official who suspects an athlete (age 18 and under) is experiencing concussion symptoms must remove him or her from competition. That athlete cannot return to play until a health care provider gives written permission. Every coach and official also must go through online training to raise concussion awareness. Some high schools also have begun baseline concussion testing for their athletes.
 
The Minnesota State High School League instituted the new policy last week, stating "In its various sports playing rules, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) has implemented a standard rule in all sports dealing with concussions in student-athletes. The basic rule in all sports (which may be worded slightly different in each rule book) states that: 'Any athlete who exhibits signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with a concussion (such as loss of consciousness, headache, dizziness, confusion, or balance problems) shall be immediately removed from the contest and shall not return to play until cleared by an appropriate health care professional.'"
 
For more on the new MSHSL policy, click here.
 
Over the past three years, cognitive screening has become part of the back-to-school ritual for dozens of local high school athletes. The purpose: to establish a baseline for assessment in case any of these teens sustains a sports-related concussion.
 
The screening is now backed by the full weight of the new Minnesota law aimed at reducing the long-term consequences for kids who get a concussion while playing sports.
 
As many as 300,000 sports-related concussions occur annually in the U.S. among children and teens. About half of these are severe enough to require a trip to the emergency room.
 
Once upon a time, head injuries, or “getting your bell rung,” were seen as a routine hazard of sports. This thinking has changed radically as evidence grows about the long-term impact of concussion among youths.
 
It’s now known that children and teens, whose brains are still developing, take longer to recover from a concussion than adults do. It’s also now known that brain rest needs to be part of their recovery. Moreover, youngsters who sustain one concussion are more vulnerable to another concussion, raising their long-term risk of memory loss and permanent brain damage.
 
Minnesota is one of several states that now have laws protecting concussed student athletes from returning to the game too soon. Many school districts have been readying themselves with training and information for coaches and officials.
 
The cognitive screening helps provide a post-concussion assessment on whether a young athlete has recovered enough to play again, and removes the subjectivity from the process. Higher awareness among coaches and sports officials about how to recognize concussion and follow the right protocol should help significantly decrease the likelihood that a young athlete will experience an undiagnosed concussion.
 
Posted By MSHSL
Thursday, August 25, 2011
MSHSL Approves Minneota/Lincoln HI Football Co-op
According to the Marshall Independent, Lincoln HI no longer has its own football team.
 
After two weeks of practicing with the Minneota football team, with a cloud of uncertainty hanging over their heads, players from Lincoln HI are officially part of the Vikings.
 
On Wednesday, Minnesota State High School League Executive Director Dave Stead informed both Minneota and Lincoln HI that Lincoln HI's players will be eligible to play with the Vikings in the 2011 season.
 
Waiting for the final ruling, the two teams continued to practice, and Minneota head coach Chad Johnston was relieved to know the time and effort spent to get the former Rebel players up to speed will be put to good use this season.
 
"We set up our depth chart for them being there and getting reps for them, whether it's the first, second or third team," Johnston said. "Finally, it's a relief to know that everyone's effort that was put into this is going to work out."
 
With low numbers out for football, and the Ivanhoe school district breaking off with Hendricks, the ability for Lincoln HI to field a football team was in question for this season. But with co-op approved, both schools are elated to have nine Lincoln HI kids coming to Minneota to play football.
 
"The upside is nothing but positive," said Lincoln HI Athletic Director Craig Midtaune. "The kids, in these two weeks, have been terrific for not knowing what's going on. The attitude they've had, from talking to them, they're excited for practice and now have the opportunity."
 
By approving the co-op, Minneota Athletic Director Harlen Ulrich said the respective high schools and the MSHSL completed their top priority: giving the Lincoln HI student-athletes an chance to play.
 
"That's what the High School League wants to do. They want to give kids opportunities to participate in activities and this allows that to happen," Ulrich said.
 
It was not immediately known how this decision would affect the teams that were scheduled to play Lincoln HI this season. The Rebels were scheduled to play Verndale (Sept. 2), Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley, Brandon-Evansville, Eagle Valley (Sept. 23), Ortonville, Hancock, ECHO Charter and Wheaton/Herman-Norcross.
 
Two main factors weighed into the decision to approve the co-op. In order to stay in Class A, the combined enrollment of Minneota and Lincoln HI had to remain under 220 students to prevent the Vikings from being bumped up into Class AA. During the process, Minneota and Ivanhoe came to the agreement that if the football team was bumped to Class AA, the co-op would not happen. According to Ulrich, the combined enrollment was 218 students, sneaking under the Class AA threshold.
 
Complicating matters further were the High School League's transfer rules. In the MSHSL bylaws, a student-athlete transferring from one school to another, without changing residence, loses a year of eligibility. While none of the Lincoln HI football players are from Hendricks, the rule affected the rest of Lincoln HI's sports.
 
"We weren't worried about anyone being ineligible, but they wouldn't officially call us a co-op until this other issue was settled," Midtaune said.
 
Because the Ivanhoe-Hendricks split occurred in late June, Minneota, Lincoln HI and the MSHSL were working under a rushed schedule.
 
With a tight time frame and a unique situation, Midtaune said the MSHSL came up with a ruling which gave parents and students an opportunity to have their kids at Lincoln HI without losing a year of eligibility.
 
The merger of the football teams is the latest co-op between Minneota and Lincoln HI, who combined for baseball this spring. Both schools also join with Canby for softball, track and field and cross country. Midtaune said Lincoln HI players have been practicing with Minneota both before school and after school.
 
This story was written by Joe Brown, Sports Editor at the Marshall Independent. It was used by permission. You may read the complete story here.
 
Posted By Joe Brown (Marshall Independent)
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
MSHSL Announces Class AAAAAA Football Playoff Format
A football playoff format for the 32 largest Minnesota high schools was formally approved this week by the Minnesota State High School League's board of directors.
 
The new division will begin play in 2012.
 
The 32 Class AAAAAA teams will be split into four sections, with eight teams in each section. For the first round of playoffs, each section will seed its teams 1 through 8. After the first round of games have been played, the four winning teams from each section will be matched with the top four from a different section by random draw; higher seeds will play lower seeds,with higher seeds being the home team. Those section-to-section pairings will rotate every two years.
 
After two rounds of games, eight teams will advance to the state quarterfinals and be seeded under the current format, with coaches voting to seed the top four teams and a blind draw deciding their opponents from the remaining four.
 
The AAAAAA state quarterfinals will be played under the same timetable as quarterfinals in other classes. The AAAAAA state semifinals will be played at the Metrodome on the Thursday evening prior to the traditional Friday-Saturday semifinals. The AAAAAA championship game will be played on Friday night of Prep Bowl weekend.

The section lineups look like this (Brainerd is the only outstate team in the 32-school field)…

SECTION 3
Burnsville High School
Eagan High School
Eastview High School
Lakeville North High School
Lakeville South High School
Park High School
Prior Lake High School
Rosemount High School

SECTION 4
Cretin-Derham Hall High School
Forest Lake High School
Mounds View High School
North High School
Roseville Area High School
Stillwater Area High School
White Bear Lake Area High School
Woodbury High School

SECTION 5
Anoka
Blaine High School
Brainerd High School
Centennial High School
Champlin Park High School
Coon Rapids High School
Maple Grove High School
Osseo

SECTION 6
Eden Prairie High School
Edina High School
Hopkins High School
Minneapolis South
Minnetonka High School
Robbinsdale Armstrong High School
Shakopee High School
Wayzata High School
Posted By John Millea (MSHSL)
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