Safety Paramount for Milan football

Coach Ward working with the Varsity football team during the Hillsdale Scrimmage against Concord.

By Balinda Zimmerman

The MHS football programs have acquired new safety equipment designed to aid in the protection of the brain while practicing and repeatedly clashing helmets on the football field. Based on the many website businesses that are providing protective head gear in 2017, many colleges and high school programs are using these various types of protective headgear to aid in not necessarily preventing but helping to protect against head trauma. That sounds a little rough for some folks but football is a rough and rugged sport that involves a lot of hitting, tripping, pushing, shoving, and head knocking that often results in concussions and other injuries.
The football boosters, including MHS Head Coach Jesse Hoskins, reviewed the protective gear, researched companies that make the products and agreed that any equipment that will help protect the students is well worth the investment. The cost of the Guardian headgear is minimal when you consider what is on the line every time helmets are cracking against each other on the field of play. The cost per helmet was well under 100.00 and MHS booster Ellen Furtney recognized, “this purchase is possible by the wonderful businesses that have bought MHS football sponsorships and the player and parent fundraising.”
The helmet gear is a cover that is easy to apply as it snaps onto the facemask with four elastic straps. The purpose of the cushioned cover is to minimize the brain impact while practicing multiple times a week. Ultimately, this is aiding in additionally protecting the brain during the actual hard-hitting games even if it is not worn during those games. It has been determined that multiple minor traumas (sub-concussive traumas) can affect how the brain handles a major hit like those that happen during the actual football games.
According to guardiancaps.com, the soft-shell is designed for impact reduction up to 33%, does not affect the integrity of the helmet, is water resistant, lightweight, insulates in hot and cold weather and is approved for use by the NFHS. The NFHS is the National Federation of State High School Associations who writes the rules for competition between school sports. Guardian makes no claims to prevent concussions and brain injuries, only to offer additional protection to those who wear the Guardian protectors in practices and even in games.
Milan’s varsity player, Richard Arecheja, Jr. was treated for a concussion he received recently while using the protective gear but his dad explains that Richard has had a couple concussions before and says, “I think Richard is one of those kids that is prone to these (concussions) if he gets any type of hit or force trauma whether it is directly or indirectly.” According to Richard, Sr. this particular injury occurred when Richard, Jr. took a hit by someone’s whole body as he was trying to interrupt a wide receiver’s route. Dad definitely approves of the gear, saying “I mean that 100%. When I seen them for the first time I was very impressed” that Milan is trying to do everything to protect the players.
One unnamed MHS football player was heard to say the team felt they looked like brain injury patients when wearing the headgear. However when asked how he specifically felt about them, varsity player Brandon Lange said, “I think they are pretty benefiting. Just based off a couple of weeks with them you barely feel anything. It really takes a lot of impact before it gets to you. … When they are on, you don’t even notice it to be honest.”
When asked his thoughts on the new protective gear Coach Jesse Hoskins responded via e-mail that “concussions and concussion awareness is a major part of the game…The number one way to best prevent a concussion is to be physically strong and in good shape.” Coach Hoskins recognizes that part of being physically strong includes hydration and plenty of rest as well as using sound techniques on the field. He further stated, “The head gear is important, but only after an athlete has done the other things mentioned to the best of their ability. Hoskins pointed out that MHS football players wear Schutt and Riddell helmets, the top brands out there and Guardian headgear is just an added preventative measure. “We are trying to stay ahead of the curve and protect our guys the best way we can,” said Hoskins.
Hoskins added that he was not necessarily concerned with whether the guys liked them or not but whether they worked to protect the players and keep them safer than without them. “We will see when we get into more full contact drills and scrimmages how different they are for the kids, says Hoskins. “We will wear them for all practices and scrimmages, and the individual athletes will have the choice whether they wear them in games.” 

Balinda Zimmerman is a certified mediator, owner/operator at Milan Memories by Minna, and freelance writer for the Milan Eagle News. Balinda can be reached at balindaz [at] comcast [dot] net

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