Brown Players Experiment with Protective Headgear During Fall Ball


Some Bears have opted to experiment with headgear during practices this fall.

Brown women’s lacrosse is the first known NCAA Division I team that is actively experimenting with protective headgear this fall. Some Bears have opted to wear the equipment during practices.

Neither the school nor the Bears coaching staff is requiring that players use the equipment. It is optional, coach Keely McDonald clarified.

“We are not mandating headgear,” McDonald said. “We have bought them for each player to have the option and are experimenting with them this fall.”

“There’s definitely been some excitement with just trying out new technology,” said one Brown player, whom the school requested not be identified for the purposes of this article. “It really is just continuing to play how you are and just having the benefit of perhaps additional safety.”

Last season, two Brown players wore the Cascade LX, one of two available products on the market that meet the ASTM performance standard. The Hummingbird, produced by Hummingbird Sports, is the second approved model.

“I see it as another approved protective product that our student-athletes have the option to wear, or not wear,” McDonald said.

As of Jan. 1, 2017, US Lacrosse and NCAA women’s lacrosse rules allow for the optional use of headgear if it meets the ASTM performance standard, F3137, which was formally approved May 21, 2015. US Lacrosse drafted the standard to help reduce impact forces associated with stick and ball contact in women’s lacrosse. This allowance acknowledges that some individuals desire the use of protective headgear.

“We are not making them available for concussion prevention because it is my understanding that no headgear has been proven to prevent a concussion,” McDonald said. “We are simply giving the players another protective option to try.”

The testing protocol for the Hummingbird and LX, which debuted on Oct. 12 and Oct. 28, 2016, respectively, requires the product to meet a certain flexibility to ensure that players who are wearing the product do not injure those who are not.

The headgear must also allow for the integration of required legal eye protection. The LX is the only available model that also satisfies ASTM Standard F3077 for eyewear.

"The safety of athletes is paramount at all levels of the women's game,” said Caitlin Kelley, US Lacrosse senior manager of the women’s game. “The headgear standard was created to provide an option to protect against stick-to-head and ball-to-head contact. Brown's decision highlights that there are sport-specific standards and equipment for female players.”

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