ROANOKE, Va. -

For communities across the area, today is the big day.

High School Football season is underway with the first official day of practices.

With each passing season, protecting kids against head injuries, especially concussions has become as large a priority as winning games.

In 2011, the so-called "Concussion Law" was passed in the General Assembly.

It requires school districts to follow very specific rules to both inform students, parents and coaches and evaluate potential injuries.

The first big step happens before athletes step on the field.

Before these athletes even take the field for practice they and their parents are required by law to hear or read about head injuries.

The coaching staffs are also required by law to complete certifications that ensure they know how to look for and handle head injuries.

Thursday, the athletes were finally out on the field.

William Fleming High School Athletic Trainer Ken Heck says the culture surrounding head injuries has changed dramatically.

"For the most part, people will come to me," Heck said.

Because of the so-called "Concussion Law", the days of playing through the pain are no longer acceptable    

If an athlete reports any head injury, they are assessed for concussion, if positive, they can't come back.

If diagnosed with a concussion, they must sit out at least a week while progressing through and passing a battery of tests before they can return to the field.

"You don't do it like you did in the old days. You okay? Go back in, nah, you check them out now," Bobby Martin said.

Martin is William Fleming's coach. Ken Heck says he's an example of how the shift towards hyper-sensitivity to head injuries has changed.

"I know I've played with a concussions," Martin said frankly, "You're dizzy and you just play, and they're paying more attention to it because you don't want them to get hurt for life."

Martin has taught his players to tackle and play in a way that minimizes  head injuries to other teams as well as his own players.

The saying: Look where you're hitting, which helps avoid the head.

"We're going go play football. We're going to play hard, we're going to hit hard, but we're also going to take care of our players," Martin said.

While medical professionals encourage sensitivity to head injuries, they also remind people that not every head injury is also a concussion.

A tip for parents from one medical professional:

Lock your headache medicine up like you'd lock your prescription drugs up, so if your child wants to take it for a headache, you can at least ask why and start a conversation about a possible head injury before you give them the medicine.