September 20, 2023
KO Football Program Meets Safety for Players Head On
For the 2023 season, the Kingswood Oxford football team decided to take the safety of the players to an entirely new level. The team purchased Guardian caps, which are soft shell-fit helmet covers attached to the top of the helmet. These caps have been shown to significantly decrease concussions and general impact at a greatly reduced rate, up to 33%. Additionally, these covers decreased static heat by 15-20 degrees, improving the playing conditions for players. They are lightweight, so players barely notice them while they are competing.
Unlike helmets where the exterior is polycarbonate, a high-strength plastic, the Guardian Caps are padded, soft-shell layers designed to reduce impact on the hard shell. These caps have been mandated by the National Football League (NFL) level and implemented widely across the country at most college and high school levels. KO is the first school within the Founders League to implement these caps. It is anticipated that younger players in youth leagues will likely begin to use these at some point.
The Guardian caps arrived early this week, and the first official practice with them was September 19. Every player will receive a cap. These are reusable for up to five years and also extend the helmet’s life, which is an added benefit.
“We are extremely committed to trying to mitigate any head trauma to our players,” said Varsity Head Coach Brandon Batory. “Any little bit that helps us from a safety standpoint, we are all for.” Part of Batory’s strategic coaching approach already designs practices to mitigate as much contact as possible, particularly with his linebackers. This includes the use of bags instead of practicing tackles against other players. Batory credits Athletic Director Josh Balabuch and Head of School Tom Dillow for their full support of the caps and for helping facilitate and fund the initiative.
“I think implementing Guardian Caps emphasizes that safety is number one,” said Batory. “Wins and losses are obviously very important for our football program, but these pale in comparison to safety. That is our number one focus with our players. We want them to have a positive athletic experience and be healthy. “
The team lost their first game of the season in a highly close contest against Dexter Southfield; the score was 20/20 with three minutes in the fourth quarter, and the Wyverns were barely edged out. The team is on the younger side but has great talent, and Batory has a lot of optimism for the year.
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