New sea­son, new hel­mets

The BOE has bought new hel­mets for New­ton County schools. What does this mean for our young ath­letes?

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - SHAKEEM HOL­LOWAY shol­loway@cov­

Back in the spring, a Vir­ginia Tech study on foot­ball hel­mets’ abil­ity to pre­vent con­cus­sions – that ranked hel­mets from a one-star hel­met to a five-star hel­met with five be­ing the best – lit a fire un­der the New­ton County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion in­flu­enc­ing them to get new hel­mets for all New­ton County mid­dle and high schools. So they did.

“The county saw the test and the re­sults. They wanted to make sure that our kids had the top qual­ity hel­mets so we were for­tu­nate enough that they were able to pur­chase ev­ery­body in the county – not just us but Al­covy, New­ton and the mid­dle schools – brand new hel­mets,” East­side head foot­ball coach Rick Hurst said. “It was a big plus for us, the county bought 78 for us. We went ahead and bought 25 or so just to get us up to our num­bers where we need to be.”

Hurst said that the new hel­mets fit re­ally well, they’re com­fort­able and the kids love them. Ac­cord­ing to Hurst each hel­met costs up­wards of $275, but they got a good deal on them at about $175 per hel­met.

The study found that Al­covy, East­side and New­ton had some hel­mets that were a three-star or less. How­ever, New­ton was the most-fit of the three schools at the time, as 42 per­cent of their in­ven­tory was made up of five-star hel­mets.

“We knew the hel­met sit­u­a­tion was com­ing. The study that Vir­ginia Tech put out kind of ad­vanced ev­ery­thing,” Banks said. “What we no­ticed is we still had about 45 hel­mets that were not five and four-star hel­mets. Hel­mets are ex­pen­sive. We’re look­ing at the five and four-star Riddells the speeds and the 360s be­ing at least $300 per hel­met, and we took those three-stars out of our in­ven­tory, ev­ery hel­met we have is ei­ther a four or five-star. Ev­ery hel­met the county pur­chased is a five-star. We do have a few four-stars that we pur­chased, but 100 per­cent of our kids are in four or five-star hel­mets.”

The Rams now have 45 new hel­mets, which com­bined with the hel­mets they had that were al­ready deemed suit­able with a four or five-star rat­ing equal a to­tal of 125 hel­mets.

The new hel­mets are set to help pre­vent con­cus­sions bet­ter than the lower ranked hel­mets that have now been re­moved from all three schools’ in­ven­tory.

At Al­covy, head coach Kirk Hoff­man said that the booster club and the BOE bought new hel­mets to re­plen­ish the three-star hel­mets they had. Ac­cord­ing to Hoff­man, they were al­ready go­ing to roll out new hel­mets next year, so they went ahead and re-did their en­tire in­ven­tory.

East­side did much of the same as they no longer have a hel­met rated less than a five-star, ac­cord­ing to Hurst.

“That’s all we or­dered, that’s all we have in our in­ven­tory and that’s all we’ll ever have now,” Hurst said. “Rid­dell was very good about giv­ing us a break, they gave us a great price county-wide on the hel­mets, plus we don’t have to pay for re­con­di­tion­ing next year which is a good thing. It’s gonna save a lot of money for each school in the long run.”

Even with the new hel­mets, con­cus­sions are still pos­si­ble, but they give stu­dent-ath­letes a greater chance of not get­ting a con­cus­sion and that’s im­por­tant to ev­ery­body.

“The thing of it is, no hel­met is con­cus­sion proof,” Hurst said. “You might see a few less con­cus­sions, but I think it’s the speed of the game, the strength of the kids and that’s what’s con­tribut­ing to the con­cus­sion fac­tor. Just like it is at ev­ery level. When you’ve got 250-pound guys run­ning 4.5, run­ning into each other, some­thing’s gotta give, it’s physics.”

Shakeem Hol­loway /The Cov­ing­ton News

Shakeem Hol­loway /The Cov­ing­ton News

The New­ton County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion bought new hel­mets for all mid­dle and high school foot­ball teams. The new hel­mets are much safer and help to pro­tect stu­dent-ath­letes from con­cus­sions.

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