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National high school sports medicine competition developed by St. Francis' Eli Hallak

St. Francis sports medicine program Director Eli Hallak hashes out affordable national sports medicine competition.

June 08, 2012|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com
(Courtesy of Tim…)

Eli Hallak had always wanted to send the St. Francis High sports medicine program to a national competition, but all the ones he found took place in person and were too expensive with travel and room and board costs.

Hallak, the director of St. Francis' sports medicine program, took matters into his own hands and developed the National High School Sports Medicine Championships, an online competition open to schools across the country, in association with the American Academic Competition Institute and John Meadows of the computer company Meadows and Associates.

"For the students who are really taking [sports medicine] serious, now there's a way to test their knowledge," Hallak said of the competition, which was conducted for the first time on May 21 and is planned to be an annual event. "I started thinking about it 18 months ago and thought, 'Why not take it online?' It costs thousands of dollars to travel with students to those other competitions."

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St. Francis had already been annually competing in the California High School Sports Medicine Competition, but Hallak was curious how St. Francis would fare nationally.

The top 10 schools and top 25 individual finishers from the High School Sports Medicine Competition and similar state events qualified for the inaugural national competition. Roughly 425 students from 28 schools in five states — Kansas, Idaho, North Carolina, Washington and California, including Maranatha and La Cañada high — took the test this year with each school being assigned to one of three divisions based on school size.

"It is an even playing field and we can really test and check [the students'] knowledge and see how they stack up against someone else across the nation," said Hallak, as students were tested on their knowledge of first aid, CPR, emergency procedures, medical terminology and legal issues. "It gives them a sense of accomplishment of how well they've done."

It was a two-fold competition. First, everyone took a 250-question test in a two-hour time slot and the top 10 finishers took part in a video conference practical over Skype — or in person in some instances — to determine the final top 10 standings.

"That test ran the gauntlet of everything medical we could throw at them," said Hallak of the hands-on practical. "These are health care classes and health care is very hands-on so we wanted to see where they landed with that."

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