Rep. Dermody: Staying ahead of the game to protect Hoosier athletes

Posted by: Hannah Carlock  | Friday, September 2, 2016 9:00 am

Our community lost a great citizen nearly three years ago. Jake West seemed like any other healthy teenager, but had an undetected heart condition that led to him collapsing during football practice. In his memory, the Play for Jake Foundation was established to create awareness and educate parents and youth about the dangers of undetected heart conditions.

This foundation also offers routine cardiac screenings in order to help prevent other tragedies. On Thursday, Sept. 8, the Play for Jake Foundation is offering free heart screenings at New Prairie middle and high schools. The registration deadline for this free, 15-minute screening is Tuesday, Sept. 6.

To register online and view other locations and dates for heart screenings, visit    

Through screenings, which should be done every two years, we can hopefully identify those who are at risk for sudden cardiac death. Another risk families should be aware of are head injuries, which can have long-lasting effects.

As a parent and state lawmaker, I am aware of the dangers of concussions and the growing concerns of school athletic programs. This year, the General Assembly passed legislation increasing student-athlete safety by requiring coaches to receive certification in a safety education course to better identify and prevent head injuries. Coaches are required to have this safety training under their belt by July of next year. Once coaches are trained and certified they will be protected legally under this new law, unless there is evidence of gross negligence.

Those who sustain a concussion are more apt to get another concussion down the road. Hopefully, this policy requiring safety education will help decrease the number of concussions in Hoosier students and prevent more serious injuries from happening in the future.

As always, please contact me with questions or input at 317-232-9850 or by email at I hope everyone has a safe, responsible and successful school year, whether it’s on the field or in the classroom.


Rep. Dermody represents portions of LaPorte and Starke counties.

A high-resolution photo of Dermody can be downloaded by clicking here.