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National Council for Spirit Safety and Education Newsletter
August News 
In This Issue
Catastrophic Cheerleading Injuries
Health Issues
NCSSE Partners with Respect in Sport USA
Southwestern Cheer Assoc.

Welcome the newest company member of the NCSSE--Southwestern Cheerleaders Association. SCA was established in 1985 by Nadine Bryant Romero. McNeese State University, in Lake Charles, Louisiana, hosted the first SCA camp. SCA has earned an impeccable reputation in the cheerleading industry for the consistent and high standard of performance applied to every camp and championship. The NCSSE is proud to have SCA as a partner in cheer safety education.

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65% of All Female High School Sports Catastrophic Injuries Attributed to Cheerleading
The Twenty-Fifth Annual Report on Catastrophic Sports Injury Research reports these statistics and several individual cases dealing with catastrophic cheerleading injuries. These numbers include fatalities, non-fatal injuries with permanent severe functional disabilities, and serious injuries. Many of these are head and neck injuries.
The time for denial and comparing cheerleading to other sports is over. Now is the time to focus on prevention. Safety begins with the coach. Four elements are of utmost importance: 1) the coach must be trained and knowledgeable about cheerleading skills, 2) physicals (including a complete medical history) should be included in pre-participation screening, 3) proper conditioning programs should be provided for cheerleaders, 4) proper training in gymnastics and stunting (including proper spotting techniques) should be provided.
Whether you coach high school, all star or recreation cheerleaders, safety and proper training for all should be your focus.  The full report written by Dr. Fred Mueller and Dr. Robert Cantu can be accessed at
Read the special section on cheerleading and the individual cases included in the report.
Health Concerns for Athletes
As the new cheer season begins, two health and safety issues take the news--heat and heart.
Heat issues can be minor like heat cramps or life-threatening as heat stroke. Coaches should know the signs and symptoms of heat-related issues and how to treat them. Humidity, direct exposure to the sun and temperature can all contribute to heat-related illnesses. The combination of these factors make up the heat index you hear weathermen talk about. Proper hydration and reducing sun exposure can help reduce susceptibility to heat-related issues. "There's no excuse for any number of heat stroke deaths, since they are all preventable with the proper precautions," said Mueller, the author of the Annual Survey of Football Injuries, a long-running compilation of statistics that tracks major injuries and deaths in 1.8 million football players on middle school, high school, college, sandlot (organized, non-school affiliated) and professional teams (see report at
Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) in athletes was the subject of the June 27, 2008, U. S. News & World Report article by Steven Reinberg. SCA is the leading cause of death in young athletes, but the worst news is that only one in 10 student-athletes who suffer SCA survives. The article goes on to say that "approximately one case of Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD) occurs every three days in organized youth sports"
  • Access to external automatic defibrillators (AEDs) can change these statistics. Access to AEDs within three to five minutes can mean the difference between life and death.
  • Schools, practice areas, gyms-all need to have access to an AED, a person(s) trained to use the AED, and an emergency plan in place for using the AED.
  • Screening exams for heart problems along with a physical before sports participation are recommended. A study in Italy where a screening EKG mandated for student-athletes resulted in a 90% decrease in SCD.

An amazing group of people have formed Parent Heart Watch (  Their mission is to promote awareness of SCD, establish credible research initiatives for SCD, and affect public policy change to encourage community action. They assist in getting AEDs placed in public locations and devising a plan for training and maintaining. One of their goals is to provide the resources and training so communities and parents can host group screening events with trained professionals. The Parent Heart Watch is a non-profit, state-by-state network of parents. Check out their website to see if your state has a Parent Heart Watch group and contact them to see if they can assist your team or gym with EKG screenings or procuring an AED.

NCSSE Partners with Respect in Sport USA
NCSSE has forged a partnership with CrossConfirm, an authorized provider of the American Red Cross, to endorse and offer its Respect in Sport USA program to all coaches in NCSSE constituent organizations. Respect in Sport USA ( is an internationally recognized program that educates coaches and protects youth athletes in the areas of bullying, harassment, neglect and various forms of abuse. Respect in Sport USA is delivered via the American Red Cross' world-class online distance learning platform, which trains individuals in all 50 states and 34 countries around the world. "We are absolutely thrilled that the NCSSE is once again taking the lead in protecting youth athletes. We are proud to be working with them, and fully expect that more organizations will follow the NCSSE's example," said Kent Burns, Founder and President of CrossConfirm. Debbie Bracewell, Executive Director of the NCSSE, added, "We are excited to be working with the American Red Cross and Respect in Sport in this joint endeavor to enhance cheerleading safety and coaching education. This program addresses risk management, maltreatment, and abuse prevention thus giving our coaches the skills to become proactive in recognizing these problems and making the team environment safer." The NCSSE continues to expand its resources to assist coaches in protecting themselves and their athletes through education and prudent implementation of safe practices.
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