Seattle United Medical Advisory Committee: A Unique SU Benefit

Seattle United Medical Advisory Committee: A Unique SU Benefit

Dr. Jon Drezner

Dr. John O'Kane

Dr. April Stempien-Otero

Seattle United's Medical Advisory Committee Unparalleled in Youth Soccer

The Seattle United Medical Advisory Committee (MAC) has served for the past few years as a volunteer council that provides Seattle United guidance on current best practices related to the health and safety of our players.  The MAC is comprised of some of the region’s best and most successful medical practitioners, all of whom have, or have had, kids that play for our club.

The committee has advised the club and organized seminars on such topics as head trauma/concussions, crumb rubber in artificial turf, playing surface health and hygiene, mental health issues and many more.

The current make-up of the MAC is as follows:

Dr. Jonathan Drezner – UW Sports Medicine Physician, Team Physician Seattle Seahawks

Dr. John O’Kane – UW Sports Medicine Physician and Head Physician UW Huskies

Dr. April Stempien-Otero – UW Cardiologist

Kristin Gollofon MS, ATC, AT/L – Seattle United Athletic Trainer

Paul Merz – Seattle United BOD and Committee Chair

Not only do we feel extremely blessed to have these outstanding and well-respected professionals looking out for the best interests of our players, but we continue to benefit from their expertise and from the many hours that each of them devotes to our club.

We caught up with the committee recently for a little Q & A.  The highlights:

What do you feel the role of the MAC is?

O’Kane:  Youth sports and soccer specifically are proven to benefit kids’ physical and emotional well-being, but participation in youth sports also comes with some health risk, primarily injury.  I feel the role of the MAC is to be aware and vigilant regarding those risks and try to minimize them whenever possible.  This is accomplished through the active and open lines of communication between SU’s leadership and the MAC.

What is the most rewarding part of serving on the Committee?

Stempien-Otero:  I am most passionate about the education that the MAC provides for both parents and coaches.  As a scientist, I am alarmed by the amount of “false science news” being spread regarding a host of issues.  Through MAC I can help disseminate evidence-based information to families to allow them to cut through the noise and focus on interventions that will truly impact the health and well-being of youth soccer players.

How does the MAC promote our players’ well-being on and off the field?

Drezner:  The Seattle United MAC is very active, addressing current and pressing issues such as concussion, mental health, playing surface health and hygiene, heart safety, injury prevention, and coach education.

O’Kane:  The MACs role is to try and identify the health benefits and risks of youth  soccer and assist the club in maximizing the benefits and minimizing the risks.  Some examples include implementing knee injury prevention programs, cardiac screening programs, parent information sessions to address common injuries and prevention strategies as well as get feedback from the parents regarding their concerns, convening round table discussions for club administrators and coaches on pertinent topics including field safety, concussion, and mental health; and lastly, developing rapid referral networks so if players are injured they can be seen quickly by medical providers with expertise in youth sports injuries.

Do you feel the MAC helps separate SU from other clubs/what is unique about the MAC?

Drezner:  No doubt!  I am unaware of any other youth club that has an active MAC, especially with expertise in sports medicine and cardiology.  I am grateful to the club for providing this opportunity and for working so collaboratively with the MAC on a variety of issues.

O’Kane:  Ultimately SU separates itself from other clubs when it comes to health and safety because they have the MAC and a certified athletic trainer hired by the club.  As they say, talk is cheap.  SU’s investment in both time and money speaks for itself.

Stempien-Otero:  The MAC has positioned SU to be THE leader in proactively dealing with health issues in youth athletes in Washington State, not just among other soccer clubs but among all other youth sports clubs in the area.  Increasingly, officials from state-wide youth organizations are tapping into the MAC to inform their decisions on youth sport safety.