The fall athletic season is off and running at high schools across north Florida and athletes are back in action with what they need to perform and recover at peak levels thanks to a unique partnership called Project 17.
The Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation and the Jacksonville Sports Medicine Program worked in conjunction with Academy Sports + Outdoors and CSX to provide support for the 17 full time athletic trainers who work for Duval Schools including new coolers, chairs tents and cleaning supplies.
The groups made the announcement at a press conference at TIAA Bank Field last week to recognize both the need for the $7,500 donation and the ways in which the much-needed supplies would be put to use in service of the student-athletes.
"These areas are an essential component of the profession and delivery of care," explained Jerry Stevens, the DCPS District Athletic Training Supervisor. "The donated items today and previous donations by the Jaguars are helping our athletic trainers keep those facilities clean and ready to provide the best care possible for student-athletes in DCPS programs."
The challenge for public schools can often be found in funding which is why Project 17 is essential to helping keep athletes healthy and safe. "The district budget can support our staff members' salaries," offered DCPS District Athletic Director Tammie Talley. "But beyond that, there is limited funding for supplies. These donated items are critical to our programs, and we appreciate our community partners for their generous support."
The need for more and better care was sadly, highlighted by the death of former Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Korey Stringer who died of exertional heat stroke after a practice session more than 20 years ago. Since then the Korey Stringer Institute has worked with the NFL to create a list of best practices for sports safety that schools and states can implement. This year KSI ranked the state of Florida No. 1 in sports safety strategies.
"We have come a long way in providing a much safer opportunity for our kids who play school sports here in Jacksonville," said Robert Sefcik the Executive Director of the Jacksonville Sports Medicine Project. "If you zero in on some of the areas where the state is lacking based upon the policies you will find that the Duval County Public Schools actually have some additional policies in place that would rank us even higher if they reviewed county by county. The Jaguars, Florida Blue, the City of Jacksonville and the Jacksonville Sports Medicine Program and other great partners in our community are all strong supporters of safe sports."
Project 17 will continue to support the 17 full time athletic trainers in Duval County Public Schools through education and donations aimed at making sports safer and more successful for every student athlete in the district.
View top photos of Project 17, the Jacksonville Jaguars initiative to support local athletic trainers in partnership with the Jacksonville Sports Medicine Program, Academy Sports and CSX.