LAWRENCE -- If not for the pads, footballs and jerseys, you’d think the Central Catholic High football squad was in search of helicopters en route to some military mission with their daunting helmets.
But the real mission they are on, besides trying to a dominant team in the Merrimack Valley Conference and beyond, is to protect themselves from concussions.
And those padded “caps” on the helmets, are the newest thing to help minimize head injuries, particularly in practice. They are called Guardian Caps, which is also the name of the company (www.guardiancaps.com).
The idea, at least from the Central Catholic perspective, was hatched by athletic director Ernie DiFiore, who was watching a University of South Carolina practice on ESPN and the players were wearing something strange over their helmets.
According to research by Guardian Caps, the “caps,” which are padded, absorb up to 33 percent of the hits to it.
“I did a little research and realized other colleges were wearing them in practice,” said DiFiore. “Concussions are obviously a big topic these days and I figured it might be a good idea to look into getting the caps.”
Head football coach Chuck Adamopoulos was on board immediately with DiFiore’s idea of possibly buying the padded caps for the entire program.
“The one thing I can say is that since Ernie has become athletic director, he has been very proactive on things like this,” said Adamopoulos. “The thing is, I would bet there are as many concussions in practices there are games.”
The cost is about $50 for each cap, which slides tightly over the helmet. With about 140 players in the program, the cost is anywhere between $6,000 and $7,000, based on discounts, etc.
DiFiore made some calls to friends of the program and alums. Before he knew it
“It was amazing how people wanted to help out,” said DiFiore. “Some people offered to buy one cap. Others several more. A few guys from the Class of ‘86 bought 30 caps apiece. Everyone was on board with this, which made it even nicer.”
According to DiFiore, there were only about three concussions last year over the entire football program, which appears to be a low number. But three is three too many if they can be avoided.
Senior captain D’Andre Drummond-Mayrie said while the new caps, which will be worn today for the first time, are a bit strange looking at first, he expects they will help.
“Honestly, I like them,” said Drummond-Mayrie, the starting running back. “When you see all of the colleges starting to wear them, you realize they must help. I’ve never had a concussion and I hope I never will. These caps will definitely help. Plus, the varsity has the camouflaged caps. They look cool. “