SALISBURY — Catawba College is kicking off the football season with the newest concussion-resistant helmets.
Although the Indians' head coach, Chip Hester, said concussions can not be completely avoided, he believes the helmets are putting players in the best position for a safe and healthy season. At day three of football practice, it wasn’t just new plays at the forefront of players and coaches minds, but what is protecting them.
The school raised $20,000 at the Catawba Golf Football Classic last May to help equip players with 50 of the latest concussion resistant helmets this season. There are new shock absorbing cushions inside, a rounder shape and newly engineered chinstraps creating a better fit.
“It makes you feel a little better with all the emphasis on concussions; you want your guys as safe as possible,” said Hester.
According to the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention, emergency department visits for sports and recreation-related brain injuries, including concussions increased 60 percent over the last decade. Football is one of the sports with the highest number of brain injuries.
“Football is a dangerous sport and concussions cannot be prevented completely, but you try to put them in the best position to not get those concussions because you got bad equipment,” said Hester.
But come game day, Hester said the new helmets would not be nearly as effective without a change in the rules.
“If his helmet comes off he’s supposed to stop, which will be interesting to see how that works. We’ve been drilling, 'Chase the ball, chase the ball.' And then if you’re helmet comes off, you better stop. If you don’t it’s a 15-yard penalty,” said Hester.
After finishing 3-8 last season, the Indians are anxious to get the season started. The Catawba Indians will take on the Livingstone Blue Bears at their first home game of the season September 8.