Last year the Estero High School girls lacrosse team had to play half its season without one of its senior captains who suffered a concussion after being inadvertently struck in the forehead with a stick.
If a Wildcats player takes such a blow to the head this season, she might not have to miss any playing time. That’s the hope of the Florida High School Athletic Association, which this season became the first state association to require girls lacrosse players to wear helmets.
The past three seasons the FHSAA has required girls lacrosse players to wear headgear that wraps around the side of the head and covers the eyes. The new helmets encompass the entire head with hard plastic.
“(Players) are getting bigger, faster and stronger,” Estero coach John Hulbert said. “There are rules to protect them, but you still have an inadvertent still come up and whack girls in the head. The helmets protect them against those.”
There are two schools of thought on the helmets, which must comply with ASTM International (formerly the American Society for Testing and Materials) standard F3137 used by US Lacrosse. While some coaches think they prevent injuries, others think the helmets could cause more by enticing players to be more aggressive.
“I’m afraid they’ll give a false sense of safety,” said Frank Adiutori, entering his 10th season as head coach at Naples High School. “When there’s a groundball, players might run recklessly from opposite directions and crash heads.”
Adiutori doesn’t see the helmets preventing concussions, which happen when the brain is shaken inside the skull. The Golden Eagles coach said hard contact to the head, either from a stick or ball or falling to the ground still will lead to a concussion. NFL players, for example, get concussions despite the thickest helmets in any sport.
However, Adiutori is willing to give the new equipment a chance.