INDIANAPOLIS – New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago are among the U.S. public school districts enrolled for coaching education and player safety protocols within USA Football’s nationally endorsed Heads Up Football program this fall.


Nine of the 10 largest U.S. public school districts – and 16 of the 20 largest – are enrolled in the USA Football program on either high school and/or middle school levels. USA Football is a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee and is the sport’s national governing body.


For the second consecutive year, more than 3,000 high schools nationwide are enrolled in Heads Up Football, which was introduced to the high school community in 2014. Heads Up Football has earned the support from three of the largest U.S.-based sports medicine organizations: the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and the National Athletics’ Trainers Association. Combined, these three organizations comprise more than 50,000 members across 90 countries spanning 70 occupations within sports medicine.


“Student-athletes’ safety is at the forefront for us, making our Heads Up Football enrollment a vital step forward for smarter and better play,” said TRENTON CORNELIUS of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Interscholastic Athletics Department. “The techniques and protocols USA Football puts forth through this program benefits our district-wide family with a number of best practices that are relevant to many sports that our students love to play.” 


“Having the largest school districts in the nation enroll in Heads Up Football is an important step to advance student-athletes’ physical literacy and enjoyment of our sport,” said USA Football CEO SCOTT HALLENBECK. “Forward thinking by academic leaders sets a significant example for others. Another win for student-athletes is how schools and their districts now enroll in Heads Up Football annually, underscoring the education community’s commitment to nationally endorsed standards and smarter play.”


The following U.S. school districts, ranked numerically by size, stand among the country’s 20 largest and are committed to educate their coaches through USA Football’s Heads Up Football program.


  1. New York City Public Schools Athletic League
  2. Los Angeles Unified School District
  3. Chicago Public Schools
  4. Miami-Dade County Public Schools
  5. Clark County (Nev.) School District
  6. Broward County (Fla.) Public Schools
  1. Hillsborough County (Fla.) Public Schools
  2. Orange County (Fla.) Public Schools
  3. The School District of Palm Beach County (Fla.)
  4. Fairfax County (Va.) Public Schools
  1. Hawai’i State Department of Education
  1. Dallas Independent School District
  2. Wake County (N.C.) Public School System
  1. Charlotte-Mecklenburg (N.C.) Schools
  2. The School District of Philadelphia
  3. San Diego Unified School District


“It is important to have a district-wide emphasis on the education and overall teaching that USA Football provides for our coaches, who are now more empowered than ever to best lead and teach our student-athletes,” said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Director of Athletics SUE DORAN, CAA. “Enrolling in Heads Up Football as a district provides consistent messaging across our schools. Underscoring the value that Heads Up Football delivers for our student-athletes is the positive, affirming feedback that I receive about the program from our high schools’ athletic directors.”


“The partnership with USA Football and the Heads Up Football Coach Training and Certification programs have afforded Broward County High Schools the opportunity to enhance the education of our coaches and student-athletes,” said Broward County (Fla.) Schools Athletic Director ROCKY GILLIS. “The additional resources received through the program have assisted us in providing a safer environment for all of our participants. The NFHSLearn courses and the in-person training provided to our coaches are key components to education and improving coach instruction.”


Created by USA Football, Heads Up Football is a comprehensive approach to teach and play the sport. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, football is the No. 1 participatory sport of high school boys with more than 1 million student-athletes playing on their school’s teams.


Heads Up Football instructs coaches on the following player health protocols and skill-based fundamentals:


  • Proper equipment fitting
  • CDC concussion recognition and response
  • Sudden cardiac arrest protocols
  • Heat preparedness and hydration protocols from the Korey Stringer Institute
  • Shoulder tackling and blocking


Some school communities receive in-kind grants and financial assistance for program enrollment from state high school athletic associations, USA Football partner ESPN, the NFL Foundation and charitable foundations of NFL clubs.


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About USA Football:  USA Football designs and delivers premier educational, developmental and competitive programs to advance and grow the sport. As the sport’s national governing body, member of the U.S. Olympic Committee and organizer of the U.S. National Team for international competition, USA Football partners with leaders in medicine, child advocacy and athletics to support positive football experiences for youth, high school and other amateur players.


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