With Friday night lights right around the corner, young athletes are checking their cognitive abilities just in case they take a hard hit and end up with brain injuries.
Along with the grass stained shorts and green Gatorade bottles comes the importance of addressing health risks, especially concussions.
"It affects day to day life. They can have memory loss. They can have difficulty computing things. They get sensitivity to light and noise, and it affects their ability to learn," said Lynn Reuss, the head athletic trainer at Eau Claire Memorial High School.
While not required by the WIAA, Mike Sinz, the head coach of Eau Claire Memorial Football, said he requires his athletes to take a baseline cognitive test before he blows the whistle at the first practice.
"Before we even get into anything physical, they have to watch a video; the athletes and their parents do. They have to take an imPACT test with our training staff," Sinz said.
The imPACT test stands for "immediate post concussion assessment and cognitive testing" and is used to compare an athlete's reaction and memory skills, pre and post concussion.
"It gives athletic trainers a better idea of where they are at for their heeling process with their concussion," Reuss said.
Staff said concussions are no joke. Athletes and their parents should take the right steps if they do get concussed.
"Monitor them and make sure they are making accommodations for them. Limiting TV, computer screens, use of their cell phones. They need to probably stay home from school on occasion just to get their symptoms under control so their brain has a chance to start heeling and get them feeling better," Reuss added.
At the end of the day, keeping the team safe is like a touchdown in a coach's eyes.
"That's one of our big things we want to stay healthy. We don't want kids sitting out. We want to put our kids in the best position possible to be able to start the season and finish the season," Sinz said.
Football is not the only sport that raises concussion concerns. Any athlete is susceptible to brain injury from sports. After football, Reuss said girls soccer is the second highest sport that athletes can receive concussions from. Athletes are not required to take the impact test by law, but it is highly recommended by coaches and athletic trainers.