CHARLOTTE, Mich. (WLNS) — Football season in Charlotte this year looks fairly normal, with the exception of one thing.
“It feels like we got a lot more protection especially since we’ve been hitting the last couple days. It just feels like your safer, your dome, your head is a little bit more cushioned so I like them,” said Ashton Laguire, a senior running back.
Guardian caps are notably softer than your typical helmet, and it’s supposed to reduce impact by as much as 33 percent. With a sport like football, every little bit can make a huge difference.
“We’ve been investigating the possibility of doing this for a number of years. And we finally decided it was time to pull the trigger. We got some support from our athletic booster organization who’s been great to us and so as an end result we just thought anything that we can do is to error on the side of caution,” said Mike Sparks, Charlotte’s football coach.
A decade ago, one couple saw this safety trend coming and wanted to do something.
“We just feel like we could really make a difference for these players and we felt like there was a better, safer way of doing so”, said Erin Hanson, owner and CEO of Guardian Sports.
The Hanson’s started Guardian Caps in 2011, and since then it has been wildly successful.
The Guardian Cap straps on to a normal helmet and is now used by more than by 200 colleges, 2,000 high schools and 100,000 athletes.
“Coming from the parent perspective, our son was starting to play football and you know in any other scenario if my son walked over and hit his head on the wall 1,500 times between August and November, I’d be like what the heck are you doing? We thought what if we can reduce that impact on that accumulation of all those hits, that was our goal.”
The Guardian Caps aren’t perfect- and coaches, doctors and even the creators say they’re not an excuse to be reckless.
But not perfect is still better than nothing at all. Jjust ask former Charlotte quarterback Collin Garn, who says he had nine concussions while playing sports for the Orioles.
“If I could’ve had these things when I was in high school, I definitely would’ve had them,” Garn said.
Garn is about to get a CT scan to try and figure out why he’s still dealing with vertigo, and yet he’s still out on the football field coaching.
“I want to be a part of the solution. Just to make the game safer. Just some concussion awareness stuff. The days of get back out there, you just got your bell rung are certainly over so I’m just glad to be apart of the solution,” Garn said.
McLaren Sports Medicine Doctor David Pohl said there’s still a lot to learn about these caps and there isn’t definitive proof if they prevent concussions yet.
“So we know the Guardian Caps are essentially a padding on the outside the football helmets in this case but you can use them for other things. So their goal is to reduce the impact forces on the helmets and thus indirectly on the heads of our football athletes.”
Out on the field, these caps are getting real life testing.
Coach Sparks says so far, so good.
“We noticed there was a pretty solid collision and when we went and actually spoke to the student athletes who were involved, neither one of them felt any of the effects.”
To learn more about Guardian Caps, you can click right here.