PRINEVILLE, OR -- Concussion protocols for student athletes are now common for mainstream sports like football and soccer. The Center Foundation, which provides the program to local athletes, is now expanding its reach to rodeo this spring.
Foundation board member and Crook County Judge, Seth Crawford, tells KBND News he realized there was a large group of underserved students, "We thought it might be a really good idea to expand into the Western Culture community in Central Oregon and so we targeted the Tri-County High School Rodeo team."
Center Foundation Executive Director Sandy Visnack says she’s pleased so many rodeo contestants now wear helmets, but concussions are still dangerously common, especially in roughstock. "With a concussion, the doctors need something to compare it to, and that’s what we provide. We provide that baseline concussion testing. And on a national and state level, the high school rodeo associations are needing to develop their own concussion protocols. And so, since we already have them, we’ve developed them in Central Oregon; it’s just a really natural progression of what we’re doing and who we’re serving." She adds, "There’s a very large team in Central Oregon, the Tri-County High School Rodeo Club. And the kids come from Bend-La Pine Schools, Crook County, Madras and Sisters, and I think even Burns and some other places. So, to have them have access to our services, especially those baseline concussion tests, as part of their normal concussion protocols, is really important."
Visnack says the nonprofit will also provide certified athletic trainers for the Oregon High School Rodeo Finals, scheduled for this summer at the Crook County Fairgrounds.
To help pay for the expanded program and others in the region, the foundation hosts a fundraiser February 11 at Brasada Ranch. "The Center Foundation is a nonprofit, so we raise all the money we need. We don’t charge athletes or families anything for our services," says Visnack.