When the McNeese State football team takes the field for the 2018 season, it will do so with the Cowboys wearing some state-of-the-art technology on their heads.
Less than two weeks after announcing a $100,000 donation to provide Riddell’s InSite Smart Helmet Technology to every varsity football player in Calcasieu Parish, The Lake Charles Memorial Foundation provided McNeese with a $15,000 check in the End Zone room in the McNeese Football Fieldhouse to bring the helmets and their technology to the college level in Lake Charles.
The helmets come fitted with a sensor that records and collects data to analyze data based on impacts sustained during practice or in a game. The data is used both locally by the team to help determine the extent of a head injury as well as by Riddell who collect the data anonymously to help further develp the product.
“I think it’s a great tool for us to be able to measure the severity of a hit,” said McNeese head coach Lance Guidry. “It’s a violent sport, and you’re never going to take away the contact involved. ... Heads are going to hit and collide. This will allow us to measure how big an impact that hit is.”
Guidry added that there is typically a lot of uncertainty surrounding a head injury, especially immediately after the point of impact. He’s hoping the new helmets minimize the guess-work that goes into determining the health of a player.
“All the time, kids get hit and dinged up,” Guidry said. “Some kids try to hide a concussion, and some even try to promote a concussion. That happens. But (McNeese Director of Sports Medicine Jim) ‘Doc’ Murphy will be able to get some readings on what type of hit they received. It will be good information to have.”
Lake Charles Memorial Hospital senior vice president of philanthropy Leif Pederson said the Foundation Board was ecstatic when he brought them a proposal to donate helments to local athletes.
Chairman of the board Jackie Roe immediately decided the group should up the ante and donate the helmets to every varsity football player in Calcasieu Parish.
“When they first presented it, it was more on a small scale,” Roe said of the pitch to the baord. “We all looked around the room and figured we have the funding, and it’s a worthwhile project.”
She said she also wanted to avoid picking and choosing which schools the helmets would go to, figuring every football team in the area could benefit from the technology.
“It shows tremendous foresight from both the foundation and the university to move ahead with a program like this,” said Riddell vice president of sales Kyle Borland. “It shows the importance of young people, specifically in and around the game of football. This is a football hotbed, and it certainly shows a forward-thinking approach.”