How to help
To donate to the Steamboat Springs High School football team’s helmet fundraiser, call Athletics Director Luke DeWolfe at 970-871-3686
Steamboat Springs It’s no longer the elephant in the room.
Whenever football comes up in conversation, the issue of concussions is likely to follow.
Concussion prevention and education are essential components of the safety net for youth football players, and now, technology is joining them. A bid for new, safer helmets is the focus of a fundraiser for the Steamboat Springs High School football team.
The team and coach Lonn Clementson are trying to raise enough money to purchase the state-of-the-art helmets. Clementson, who has worked with many professionals in the medical community, has narrowed the list of choices to three helmets from Riddell, Schutt and Xenith. All three companies have products that are on the cutting edge of concussion technology.
“With the focus in the media on concussions, we want to invest in what is the latest and best technology to prevent head trauma and concussions,” Clementson said. “With all the new technology out there, why not get the best we can?”
Clementson said the cost of a new helmet is between $250 and $400. The team needs at least 60 helmets; Clementson said they’ve raised enough for 15 to 20 helmets.
The Sailors got new helmets in 2005, but Clementson said research has shown that helmets have a shelf life of only 10 years.
“Concussions are at the forefront of high school sports,” Steamboat Springs Athletics Director Luke DeWolfe said. “It’s the biggest talks on the table. Almost daily there are studies about the long-term impact of concussions. I don’t see how you can’t look at this technology.”
The Steamboat football team has a team contact camp in June, which will precede a team camp at Colorado State University-Pueblo.
Clementson said he’d like to have the new helmets for his players before the team contact camp. In addition to helmets, Clementson said he is looking at innovations in facemasks, mouthpieces and chin straps that also help reduce concussions.
He’s also looking into Guardian Caps, foam pieces that go around the outside of helmets during practice and greatly reduce head trauma.
Steamboat Springs High School makes athletes take an impact test to establish baseline data in the event of a concussion suffered later. A new state law also went into effect earlier this year that requires coaches to take a concussion recognition training class and requires medical clearance before players can return from a concussion.
“It’s multifaceted. Ideally we’d like to prevent the concussion in the first place,” said Dr. Brian Harrington, who is working with Clementson on the concussion issue. “Secondly, we want to identify and treat it properly. The third thing is dealing with kids that have had a concussion and the risks of getting another one.”
The new helmets, and continued research and conversations about concussions, are just a way to continue the process toward keeping student-athletes safe.
“If people would just donate $10 or $20, we’d be ecstatic,” Clementson said. “It’s about injury prevention. The brain is the most delicate instrument you have as a person.”
To donate to the helmet program, call DeWolfe at 970-871-3686.
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com