As Concussion Worries Rise, Girls’ Lacrosse Turns to Headgear

At Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in Atlanta, Dana Patton along with Diane Pagano, whose daughters had each sustained concussions, spearheaded an initiative requiring every player within the program to wear headgear. The move received unanimous support. About 70 families coming from the middle school to the high school level footed the $150 cost per player for headgear during the 2017 spring season.

“The girls became better, more confident players,” Patton said. “We certainly don’t want the girls’ game to turn into the boys’ game; we want the officials to call the rules as they are. along with with the extra protection which past year, we saw a drop in head injuries.”

The percentage of players nationwide wearing headgear remains smaller along with there will be no available data measuring the equipment’s affect on head injury rates, although the mandates in completely new York City along with Florida may make those locations viable laboratories for testing.

There will be no consensus, either, on whether the girls who are using headgear are playing any rougher.

U.S. Lacrosse, the sport’s governing body overseeing more than 315,000 girls along with women playing lacrosse at all levels — a number which has nearly doubled within the last 10 years — has stood by its position which headgear will be optional. however the organization will be closely monitoring the surge in headgear use.

“We see the pockets around the country where headgear will be no longer an oddity,” said Ann Carpenetti, U.S. Lacrosse’s vice president for lacrosse operations.

Carpenetti added: “In time, there could be an entire generation of players which come up playing with headgear.”

The pushback against headgear, however, will be staunch along with unswerving, especially among the highest-level college coaches, who view headgear as a threat to the integrity along with spirit of the girls’ game, where the rules generally forbid contact.

“As soon as you put helmets on, you’re going to end up going to shoulder pads because the kids hit harder,” said Karin Corbett, the women’s lacrosse coach at the University of Pennsylvania along having a former national coach of the year. “They also will start to lead with their heads because they feel protected, along with which causes more injuries.

“We’ll become a more physical sport along having a very different looking sport than we are today.”

Corbett noted which last season she had a player wear headgear because of three previous concussions. The headgear, Corbett said, did not stop the player coming from sustaining another concussion, along with which one ended her career.

Boston College Coach Acacia Walker also opposes headgear within the sport, though she said she could not stop a player coming from wearing which.

“Our game will be already getting closer along with closer to the men’s game,” said Walker, whose team was the runner-up for the N.C.A.A. championship last season. “Helmets along with then pads could lead to the merging of the rules along with the same game.”

Walker added which if there came a time when headgear was required at the college level, she could not want to coach.

Still, an increasingly nervous band of parents along with athletic administrators have pushed for headgear, pointing to escalating rates of head trauma in girls’ lacrosse.

Photo

Curtis along with Tottenville faced off within the Public Schools Athletic League championship game in Brooklyn on May 21. The P.S.A.L. began requiring girls’ lacrosse players to wear headgear for the 2017 spring season.

Credit
Damion Reid

In recent studies, girls’ lacrosse had the fifth-highest rate of concussions in high school sports; only football, ice hockey, boys’ lacrosse along with girls’ soccer rank higher. along with although no headgear, even hard-shell helmets, has been proven to prevent all concussions, headgear has been effective in lessening head trauma caused by stick-to-head or ball-to-head contact, which does occur in girls’ lacrosse. Goalies in girls’ lacrosse have worn helmets for years.

Three years ago, Dawn Comstock, an expert on sports injuries along with an associate professor of epidemiology for the Pediatric Injury Prevention, Education along with Research Program at the Colorado School of Public Health, published data showing which most concussions in girls’ lacrosse occurred when players were struck by the ball or a stick.

While the movement in support of headgear has been building for years, the impetus for the recent uptick in its usage will be directly related to completely new equipment made available at the end of 2016.

Until then, there was no headgear specifically designed for girls’ lacrosse, along with wearing hard-shell helmets coming from boys’ lacrosse was banned because which might endanger opposing players.

however last year, U.S. Lacrosse along having a.S.T.M. International, an organization which develops along with publishes standards for a range of products, approved the first guidelines for headgear designed for the women’s game. Two manufacturers, Cascade, the leading maker of boys’ lacrosse helmets, along with Hummingbird Sports, a start-up in Holmdel, N.J., met the standard with products which are malleable on the outside. The cost of the headgear ranges coming from $140 to $150 along with the Cascade product comes with integrated protective eyewear.

Not long afterward, the Public Schools Athletic League, which governs a vast portion of scholastic sports in completely new York City, chose to require its roughly 900 high school players to wear headgear for the 2017 spring season. At a cost of roughly $89,000, most of which was defrayed by a sponsor, every league player was outfitted with headgear.

Cascade has since sold its product to more than 225 teams in 20 states, according to Jenna Abelli, the company’s senior brand manager for women’s lacrosse. Hummingbird Sports has likewise seen a nationwide appeal, said Jared Kaban, one of the founders of the company.

however at the college level, where the mere mention of headgear can ignite an especially prickly debate, headgear sales have been met with more resistance. along with for which reason, Brown University’s decision to make headgear available to its players drew sharp attention.

which was initially reported on social media, erroneously, which Brown was requiring its players to wear headgear — a falsehood which spread to virtually every corner of the N.C.A.A. coaching ranks. In reality, just two Brown players wore headgear last season along with the university decided to buy enough headgear to outfit the entire team along with make its use optional.

U.S. Lacrosse did its best to quell the disinformation however the subject has remained a touchy one for Brown, whose coach, Keely McDonald, declined to be interviewed about the university’s headgear decision last month. McDonald also refused to allow her players to speak about the matter. Later, McDonald issued a brief statement which read in part: “We are committed to the safety of all our student-athletes.”

Several additional college coaches within the last few weeks did not make themselves available for interviews despite multiple requests, although Syracuse University’s longtime coach, Gary Gait, said he supported headgear use.

“I think which could definitely keep more players on the field,” Gait said.

additional leaders within the collegiate women’s lacrosse community may be hesitant to comment because of recent court proceedings which have brought added scrutiny to the issue.

In September, a completely new York State court ruled which a former Hofstra University lacrosse player, Samantha Greiber, could proceed with her claim for negligence against the N.C.A.A. because, the court ruled, the N.C.A.A. “effectively prohibited” Greiber coming from wearing protective headgear. According to her lawyer, Aron U. Raskas, Greiber suffers coming from permanent brain injuries resulting coming from two concussions which she sustained while playing on the team.

The N.C.A.A. issued a statement in response: “The court’s ruling was at a very early stage of the case. As the case proceeds, we think which will become clear to the court which the N.C.A.A. should not be a defendant within the action.”

Still, many parents welcome the switch to headgear.

At Corning-Painted Post High School, an on-field incident in 2016 — an opponent without headgear was struck within the head at point blank range when a shot was rifled at the goal — prompted athletic administrators to require headgear the following season. The school district paid $6,0 for the equipment.

Stephanie Cooper, the school’s longtime varsity coach, will be a former college player. Before which year, Cooper aligned herself with those who feared which headgear could irreparably change the game.

“I currently see the benefits,” Cooper said, adding which her team incurred no head injuries last season. “If the rules are enforced, which doesn’t change the style of play or increase the physicality of the game.”

Logan Olmstead, a 17-year-old midfielder for Corning-Painted Post, said she along with her teammates were a little skeptical about the headgear at first — mostly because of the aesthetics.

“however within the end,” Olmstead said, “we realized which can help us play the game as long as we can. along with which made everyone safe, comfortable along with confident.

“which turned our perspective in a positive way.”

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