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August 09. 2014 8:04PM

Bedford High School athletic program feted

From left, Bedford High School director of athletics Bill Whitmore, Dr. Gregory Soghikian of the New Hampshire Orthopaedic Center and Eric Gelinas of the Safe Sports Network pose in front of the school's trophy case as Soghikian presents Bedford with the Safe Sports School Award from the National Athletic Trainers Association. (COURTESY)

BEDFORD - Bedford High School has become the second school in New Hampshire to win the National Safe Sports School Award, given by the National Athletic Trainers' Association.

The Safe Sports School Award recognizes secondary schools that take the crucial steps to keep their athletes free from injuries. Bedford High athletic director Bill Whitmore worked with athletic trainer Eric Gelinas of the Safe Sports Network, part of the New Hampshire Musculoskeletal Institue, and team physician Greg Soghikian, to fulfill the award's requirements.

In order to be considered, BHS had to demonstrate a comprehensive athletic healthcare system to qualify, which included having emergency action plans and injury prevention strategies.

Laura Decoster, executive director for the Safe Sports Network, said that the organization is dedicated to youth sports safety.

"Safe Sports Network athletic trainers are assigned to several area schools," including the Manchester public high schools, Goffstown High School, BHS, Campbell High School in Litchfield and Bishop Guertin High School in Nashua, Decoster said in a press release. "Ensuring a safe environment for student athletes is their priority."

The criteria required for the award are industry standards. Decoster said that although the award is new, most of the practices are in place at all Safe Sports Network schools. BHS already had most requirements in place before receiving the award.

"Bedford and Cardigan Mountain School - the other current Safe Sports School awardee - are to be commended for being so proactive in this crucially important area," Decoster said.

According to the Safe School Sports Award packet, available on NATA's website, brain injury (typically concussion), cardiac arrest, devastating heat illness, exertional sickling, cervical spine fractures and other injuries and illnesses that can result from sports are all serious and potentially life-threatening. As many 100 secondary school athletes die per year, the majority from sudden cardiac arrest.

In 2009, athletes age five to 14 accounted for almost 40 percent of all sports-related injuries treated in hospitals, with the severity of the injury increasing with the age of the participant.

For more information on Bedford High School's designation as a Safe Sports School, contact Decoster at 627-9728, or email

To nominate a school for the Safe School Sports Award, visit

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