|The Lakeside School's football program faced a crisis of declining participation, but Atavus helped address concerns on and off the field.|
Atavus Team, Jan. 10th 2020
The Lakeside School is an academically rigorous, private high school with a national reputation for student excellence, and football team that plays in a big city metro league against much larger schools. Facing declining participation and high instances of concussion, the football program turned to Atavus to address both challenges. After meetings where parents learned about the Atavus Tackle System, the following season saw a 100% increase in players turning out for football. The team finished 8-2, made the playoffs, and saw no tackling related concussions.
The Lakeside Lions finished the 2016 season with just 16 players on the roster. The program was losing the support of parents due to player injuries and negative news reports on the sport. Declining participation threatened the program’s future.
New head coach Mike Lengel knew Lakeside needed to change. He was aware that rugby-style tackling techniques were gaining support and online videos were available, but he believed that player safety was important enough to hire experts to teach a better approach.
In March, the football team hosted an information night where concerned parents came to learn how Lakeside planned to address player safety. Lengel invited Atavus to speak about shoulder-led tackling technique. Parents were won over. “Seeing the science behind the Atavus Tackle System was an important step in building confidence in parents,” said Lengel. “It convinced many to let their kids play.”
That spring Lakeside started with game film analysis and an on-field clinic before eventually moving to a year-round solution. By the beginning of the 2017 season, Lengel and his staff were using Atavus drills and technique.
Positive buzz around Atavus among Lakeside parents resulted in 35 players turning out for the 2017 season, a large number for a school Lakeside’s size. “Atavus has directly and indirectly helped us boost participation in our program,” said Lengel. Parent engagement did not stop on information night. Armed with language and tools that show good technique, Lengel proved to parents during the season through video and photos that the Atavus approach works.
On the field, Lakeside’s investment and focus paid dividends. The Lions went 8-2 and made the playoffs for the first time in a generation. Even better, the team suffered no tackling related concussions.
Spending time on proper tackling resulted in improvements in closing space, and increased confidence going into contact. For the first time, a Lakeside linebacker led the league in tackles. “Lakeside is one of the better tackling teams in the league now,” said Lengel. “Atavus give kids confidence. We are not the biggest or strongest, but the technique makes use more efficient and more safe.”
Atavus continues to be a growing part of the Lakeside program, and a frequent topic of conversation among coaches, players, and parents. Players embrace the Atavus drills and technique, and parents see value from the science, statistics, and reports produced for them by the coaching staff.