NASHVILLE, Tenn – The Tennessee Titans have named Concord Christian High School's Troy Fleming their Week 9 H.S. Coach of the Week.
Fleming is very familiar to the football landscape of Tennessee, having played at nearby Battle Ground Academy, at the University of Tennessee, and a few years with the Titans. He is now the head football coach for the Concord Christian High School Lions. This is a unique honor because this is the program's first year of existence. The team currently competes on the junior varsity level, but looks forward to having a varsity squad in the near future.
Despite the level the play, the matter of safety remains the same. Coach Fleming has included his team into the USA Football Heads Up program. Despite the program's infancy, Fleming understands the importance of setting a standard from the beginning. Safety of the game and teaching his athletes proper tackling techniques is a great start to a promising future.
We discussed with Coach Fleming the new football program, his effort towards ensuring his athletes' safety and the steps to make sure parents feel safe about their child participating in the sport.
Coach, why did you decide to sign up for Heads Up Football?
*I decided to signe up for Heads Up Football because being with a new program and teaching my players how to play the game, I wanted to teach them the correct way – the proper way to tackle, proper way to protect themselves when getting tackled, and to prevent any injuries. Lately, there has been a big emphasis on safety in sports due to concussion problems. I just don't want to subject my players to any unsafe playing conditions that will hinder their life after sports because football is not going to last forever. I want them to walk away from the game intact and able to use all their limbs in proper functions. *
Being your program's first year, you are in a unique situation. Did you have players who were taught the wrong way or were you teaching players that never really tackled and/or played much anyway?
*I had a few that have played before and we had to correct some of their habits. Don't like to point fingers and say someone was taught wrong but they weren't taught fully in the proper way. We corrected those issues and we will correct all the time. We wanted to emphasize – with the new guys who never played – to teach them the proper habits from the beginning so there wouldn't be an issue of correcting bad habits. Most of the guys (Concord players) have picked up on the concept, but in the short time that we have to practice this school year, we will definitely emphasize it in spring practice. *
I know in the beginning there could be some issues back and forth but is it safe to say your staff is fully behind the Heads Up program?
*The coaches are 100 percent behind it. Our biggest thing is, being at such a school as Concord, where parents are sending their kids to a private Christian school; the biggest concern was safety from the beginning. I told my staff in order to keep this program going and kids interested, we have to emphasize safety and over-emphasize to the parents, their sons are being taught the proper techniques. So yes, my whole staff is into it. *
This past Monday was Concord's last game of the season. Coach Fleming will continue his efforts to make the game safer for his student-athletes as he begins his plans for the upcoming spring practices. As the Coach of the Week winner, Fleming will receive a $1,000 grant benefiting the Concord Christian High School football program.
The Tennessee Titans have provided grants for teams across the state for over 15 years. Over that period, the Titans have provided $183,000 toward the Titans High School Coach of the Week grant program to improve the game throughout Tennessee.
To learn more about the Heads Up Football Program, please click here (http://usafootball.com/headsup).