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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Guardian Caps gaining ground as concussion-prevention aid

 By Chris Hunn, Register Staff

With a handful of his players suffering concussions last season, and the growing concern of head injuries in the spotlight, Oxford football coach Joe Stochmal decided to invest in the Guardian.

A fairly new piece of technology with safety in mind, Guardian Caps are waterproof, one-size-fits-all shells that slip over and strap onto the helmet. A cap weighs just 6½ ounces and is designed to absorb the impact of a hit. Guardian says it reduces the impact by up to 33 percent.

“We had a few concussions that hampered kids from getting back on the field,” Stochmal said. “We purchased a few to curtail that a little bit. If it helps, we’ll purchase more. How good are they? Time will tell. I don’t know. But it’s worth the couple hundred dollars to see if it helps.”

The cost is $55 per protective helmet cover. Oxford purchased six and the players who suffered concussions last season used them recently during the Wolverines’ spring practice session. Stochmal said there were no concussions during the spring.

Matt Simonds, national sales coordinator for Guardian, said 12,000 have been sold. Close to 300 teams in different capacities — at the youth level, high school and college — are using them. Most notably, perhaps, is the University of South Carolina. On the state level, Oxford, St. Paul and Staples, which purchased 115 for its program, are giving them a try. The Wallingford Vikings youth program is looking into purchasing them for the entire league for the 2014 season. The league did not have it in its budget for this season, but will likely be used on an individual basis. Yale coach Tony Reno has also expressed interest in the product.

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