Right up until the scheduled kickoff of what was supposed to be his first game as Charlestown High School football coach last September, George Munroe was haggling with local hospitals to secure paperwork that would clear some of his players to play under the state’s new concussion law.
Despite Munroe's efforts, Charlestown ended up forfeiting its season opener against Burke. Boston English also forfeited its opener against Brighton because it, too, did not have enough players whose physical exams had been cleared by school nurses.
“There were a few kids that weren’t in that we were trying to get them in but the hospitals wouldn’t process it,” Munroe said Monday, noting that a special consent form has to be filled out to obtain a copy of a physical if players don't walk away with it in hand the day of their exam.
“It was like pulling teeth to get the hospitals to fax stuff over to us.”
The Boston Scholar Athletes Program — which funds Boston.com’s BPS sports page — is trying to avoid that scenario this fall by having doctors on had to give free physical exams during its Summer Fit Program this week and at all of its preseason clinics in the coming weeks.
“With the situation of all the forfeits from last year, we kind of realized we need to be proactive around this issue,” said BSA athletic manager Brad Schoonmaker.
The BSA Summer Fit Program, which started in July, will offer physicals from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday at Madison Park High School. Waivers to be eligible for the physical can be obtained on the BSA's website and its Facebook page, Schoonmaker said.
Munroe said he told his entire team to attend the Sumer Fit program this week so the players can get their physicals.
“It’s going to make things so much easier,” he said.
Schoonmaker said physicals also will be offered at the volleyball clinic Aug. 14 at MGA Sports in Norwood, at the football combined on Aug. 17, which will likely be at Madison Park, and during the soccer clinic run by the New England Revolution Aug. 23 at the Kroc Center in Dorchester.
Schoonmaker said BPS school nurses will process the physicals during the final week in August.
“So that’s one of the things we’re most excited about, is getting the school nurses to actually input all that data,” Schoonmaker said. “Because the school nurse is the only person who can check that box.”
This fall will mark the third year the concussion law is in place. Players must file a head-injury history form and parents must watch a concussion video or undergo a brief concussion training session, usually online. Players, parents, coaches, and athletic directors must certify that they've taken the educational course, and the student can't play until they file the forms.
No BPS sport had a harder time making sure players were cleared to play last fall than soccer. On the first Tuesday of the season, only two of seven scheduled games were played. Most of the games were canceled because of paperwork not being filed on time.
East Boston boys soccer coach Lorenzo DiBenedetto, who noted that he has never forfeited a game in his 10 years as Jets coach, said it will be tough for many of his players to make the BSA's summer sessions because they have summer jobs.
“It’s a great initiative,” DiBenedetto said. “I think what needs to happen is to take that good-spirited initiative and make it tailored, more tailored to us."
DiBenedetto applauded the BSA's efforts but said he only learned about the program two weeks ago and that it would be more helpful if they provided physicals to fall athletes the previous school year, before summer vacation starts.
“Unfortunately it’s the first time doing it,” he said. “If they had a little more input from coaches, I would say, ‘Listen, do it at the end of May, early June.’ That would be fantastic so I’m going home for the summer and kids are taken care of.
“That’s something we should look into next year, but [this year's program is] better than nothing.”
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- Justin A. Rice -- A metro Detroit native, Rice is a Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) and Northeastern University graduate. Rice lives in the South End with his dog and wife, who unfortunately attended the University of Michigan ... his wife, that is. He curates the BPS Sports Blog and is always looking to write about city athletes with great stories. Have an idea? He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
- Ryan Butler -- A Rhode Island native and avid Boston sports fan, Butler played basketball, baseball and football throughout his time in Barrington Public Schools. Now currently in his middler year at Northeastern University, he joins Boston.com as a correspondent for the site's BPS coverage. Have a story idea? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on his Twitter @butler_globe.