Keeping your head in the game
Published 5:12 pm Friday, February 5, 2016
BY TITUS MOHLER
Helmets continue to be an evolving piece of equipment in the game of football as the focus continues on concussion prevention and making “America’s Game” a safer sport.
As it looked to upgrade its helmets during the offseason, Windsor High School recently found itself in lockstep with a certain future Hall of Fame quarterback who will be playing in Super Bowl 50 this Sunday.
“There’s something to be said for looking at a student and saying, ‘You’re wearing the same helmet that [Denver Broncos quarterback] Peyton Manning is wearing,’” Windsor principal Daniel Soderholm said.
Windsor is transitioning to the Riddell SpeedFlex helmet, the company’s most-recent innovation. The school purchased 16 helmets, and they arrived in early January.
The chief motivation to upgrade the Dukes’ headgear is safety.
“I do think that as stewards of these young people, we want to provide the safest environment we can, so if we have this opportunity, we take it,” Soderholm said of buying top-rated helmets.
Virginia Tech has developed a five-star rating system that illustrates how some adult football helmets provide a greater reduction in concussion risk than others. Included in the ratings are 26 different adult football helmets.
How a helmet fares in the evaluation system is expressed, in part, by a star system of another kind.
A helmet that is among the best available is given five stars, and those that are not recommended aren’t given stars.
“We are trying to go with the most current science that we can, and right now, Virginia Tech is leading, really, the world regarding the helmet safety,” Soderholm said. “We’re trusting that research by those who are doctors and those who are engineers.”
In the course of Windsor’s annual purchase of helmets, it secured the SpeedFlex, which have a higher STAR value number associated with them than the Revo Speed.
“We felt like that was the next step in the helmet safety,” Soderholm said. “We have an established relationship with Riddell.”
He noted that a little over half of his school’s helmet supply is composed of either a SpeedFlex or Revo Speed.
Each year, Windsor returns its helmets to the factory to be reconditioned and evaluated as to whether or not they need to be replaced. Every helmet made has its own expiration date, and it is never further than 10 years away.