AHN Lacrosse: A New Look

February 13, 2017

This season, the Academy lacrosse team is taking the field with a new look. In 2015, the FHSAA passed a rule that high school girl lacrosse players must wear protective headgear while playing on the field. For the past two seasons, AHN lacrosse girls have been wearing Full 90 Headgear, which is a black foam padded headband. Florida is the only state that is required to wear head gear, since the rule was passed by FHSAA and not US Lacrosse, which governs high school girls lacrosse nationally.

Photo Credit: Sophia Mastro/ Achona Online.                                    Junior Alexandra Fonseca said, “I did not like the Full 90 headbands. They fall of your head really easy and are pointless to wear because they don’t even protect your head.”

However, this year US lacrosse passed a new rule regarding headgear. The rule states that if headgear is chosen to be worn by players it must meet the new ASTM standard. All headgear that meets the standard must cover the majority of the head, which makes many models of headgear approved by the FHSAA no longer suitable for protection. This decision was the result of the ASTM research that found no single area of the head is most susceptible to injury. US lacrosse states that headgear will remain optional with the exception of Florida high school lacrosse girls governed by the FHSAA. High school girls in Florida will continue to be required to wear headgear and starting next season it will be required to meet the standards of US lacrosse. Although this season, the full head helmets are not required a few Florida teams have decided to take one step ahead and sport the new helmets this season.

Photo Credit: Sophia Mastro/ Achona Online.                                   The new helmets have built in eye wear, so unlike previously, AHN lacrosse girls are no longer required to wear separate protective eye googles.

Athletic director Kevin Vargas decided that the AHN lacrosse team will be wearing the headgear that meets the new standard, which is a full headed helmet with a built in face mask.

Vargas said, “Earlier this year the FHSAA announced that they would be mandating the new headgear for the 2017-18 school year with Cascade and Hummingbird being the two approved options. When that announcement was made I began looking into why this decision was made along with the two options that were approved. I set a meeting with representatives of Cascade and learned more about the product as well as testing measures and they reaffirmed what I had read. The research indicates that the headgear that we are going with this season is the safest on the market; with that being the case I decided that I wanted the safest product for our girls.”

Photo Credit: Sophia Mastro/ Achona Online.        Vargas says, “While there is no product that is ‘concussion proof’ our goal is always implementing whatever we can to keep our athletes safe.”

Coach Arianna Louder also believes the helmets will help keep her team safe, however she expresses some conflicting views with the FHSAA and the helmet rule.

Louder said, “I personally have very conflicting views on helmets. On one hand, I am glad that there is finally a product on the market that women’s lacrosse specific, that is created to protect players who might have multiple concussions or just feel more comfortable in a helmet. I also like the fact that they made the helmet soft so it won’t hurt girls who are not wearing them. On the other hand, I do feel as though helmets should be a personal choice for the athlete and not mandated by FHSAA or US Lacrosse. I fear if it’s mandated by US Lacrosse, other aspects of the game will change, and the uniqueness and beauty of women’s lacrosse will fall to the men’s game.”

When asked why she has decided for this year’s team to wear helmets, Louder said, “We went with helmets this year because they meet the ASTM standards set by US lacrosse. These helmets are designed specially for women’s lacrosse. It doesn’t make sense to wear a headband or full 90 when those products are not intended for the sport the girls are playing. If we’re mandated by Florida to wear something that makes the girls safe, we might as well wear the product that will make the girls safe!”

Photo Credit: Sophia Mastro/ Achona Online.                                                     Full 90 Headgear is intentionally designed to be used for playing soccer, not lacrosse. The headband only protected a small parameter of the head.

Louder also expresses her fears of the helmets causing more aggressive play and having a negative impact rather than a positive one.

Louder said, “Hopefully the impact of helmets will be a few prevented injuries. Just like volleyball, soccer, and basketball, concussions do occur in lacrosse. All FHSAA teams in Florida will be wearing them next season so we are not a special case.  I do however fear some of the side effects that are caused by helmets such as the gladiator syndrome which is when a player will put themselves in a risky situation on the field that they wouldn’t otherwise put themselves without a helmet, and an increase in aggressive play. These instances would ultimately make the helmets more harmful than helpful.”

The helmets are a new adjustment for the team and will definitely take time to get used to. Many AHN team members dread the helmets and find them every uncomfortable, while some team members believe wearing the helmets it’s a worthy sacrifice for their safety.

Photo Credit: Amelia Traviesa (used with permission).                              Freshman, Olivia Williams says, “I personally do not like the helmets. It is not comfortable to wear and doesn’t fit my head right. Within ten minutes into practice, I start to get a headache.”

Many team members voice similar complaints of headaches from the helmets.

Junior, Mia Lopez said, “When we first started wearing them I would get really bad headaches, but now that I have stretched it out more it is starting to feel more comfortable. It definitely was a big adjustment for our team.”

While most of the team is not in favor of the helmets, they still understand that having to wear them is for the best interest of their safety.

Junior, Feraby Hoffman said, “Last year several girls suffered from concussions on our team and hopefully the helmets will prevent these injuries. I feel much more secure and safe when playing on the field.”

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