Emphasizing safety after Long Island teen dies following accident at football practice

CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A Long Island high school is mourning after one of its students died in an accident during football practice.

Thousands of high schoolers in the Capital Region are getting ready for football season and the dangers of the sport.

“It’s a part of the game,” Ryan Thompson said.

Thompson is a football player at Shenendehowa High School. He knows he’s taking a risk each time he heads out on the field.

“There’s just certain things that you cannot prevent happening, you know,” he said. “Accidents such as concussions.”

The accident doesn’t even have to be during a game.

Thursday morning, at Sachem East High School on Long Island, a 16 year old died when he was struck by a log he was carrying as part of a conditioning drill.

“We design our practices with safety in mind,” Shenendehowa HS Athletic Trainer Rick Knizek said.

Knizek said the school puts more precautions in place for practices and games every season.

“We’re making sure that these guys are conditioned and ready to go,” he said. “So that when we do start practice on day one, they’re able to handle that.”

They also teach the players how to tackle properly and encourage them to communicate with their coaches and parents if they’re not feeling well.

“If they don’t do that, that’s going to set them up for possible, you know, more injuries down the road,” Knizek said.

“We all have each other’s back,” Thompson said.

Thompson said that’s what counts: coaches, teammates and parents all looking out for each other, so they can keep playing the game they love.

“It’s about trust,” he said. “Having trust in your teammates and your coaches.”

Most area high schools start football practice on Monday, August 14.

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