WOOD RIVER JCT. — Chariho’s football teams are wearing safer helmets this season.
Athletic Director Michael Shiels said the purchase, recommended by the Football Helmet Committee last year, was approved by the School Committee in time for the start of school in the fall.
Shiels served on the committee, along with Chariho Principal Craig MacKenzie, football parent Rich Judkins, and Dr. Lisa Manlove of Wood River Health Services.
“We purchased the helmets and we have been using them since the beginning of the year,” Shiels said. “We replaced the ones from the previous season. Not that there were any other issues with those, it’s just that we had an opportunity to purchase new helmets.”
The helmet committee met with a representative from the Riddell company, which makes helmets that contain sensors, called InSite impact response modules, that detect impact and transmit the data to tablet computers.
“They’re using it with some of the higher-level college teams,” Shiels said. “They’re using it with some of the professional teams and we had the opportunity to purchase some helmets with InSite technology at a reduced cost.”
The district was offered the helmets for $390 per helmet, a savings, Shiels explained, of $150 per helmet. The total cost for 40 helmets is $15,600.
“What the InSite technology does is, it’s a module that is inside the helmet. When you buy the InSite technology package, you get two tablets and basically what happens is, the helmets are registered in the tablet, so if you’re wearing Number 1 and you’re on the field of play and you take a hit to the head, if it’s a forceful enough hit, Number 1 will register on the tablet so the coach and the athletic trainer know ‘Hey, we need to take a look at Number 1.’”
Shiels said the technology was particularly useful in pileups.
“When you have a pileup, when you have your scrum or somebody’s on the ball and you have four or five or six football players landing on each other or falling, it’s very difficult to see where everybody is and if anybody did get a hit to the helmet,” he said. “You can’t see it because of all the bodies. So this technology helps in that sense … It’s another tool, it’s another resource to use for player safety.”
The district has also retrofitted its 10 existing Speedflex helmets with InSite modules at a cost of $180 per helmet.
“We purchased those a year before,” Shiels said. “So those helmets were only a year old, so the Riddell rep was able to install that module in those helmets.”
Shiels said he was pleased that Chariho players would benefit from the same level of protection as college and professional teams.
“Professional teams and college teams are going this route, and I think high school teams should probably use it also, just because of the technology that’s available,” he said.