Bremerton High School football coach Paul Theriault hopes going softer will make his player safer. Spring workouts this year included Velcro-padded wraps on the outside of Bremerton’s football helmets.
The manufacturer of Guardian Caps said the product reduces impacts by 25 to 33 percent, but it's unclear if it will reduce concussions.
“We just thought, 'If there's a chance, that's a decent enough reason to get them,'” said Theriault, who does expect fewer injuries caused by players accidentally running into someone with a helmet.
“If you can imagine a hard surface impact, something like a kneecap, well now that's not happening. You're not getting that soft tissue injury you normally would,” said Theriault.
The team used the pads during spring workouts and will have them in place for summer and fall practices.
Bremerton's the only team in its league with the pads and they will not be worn in games.
“They look a lot funny,” said all-league linebacker McCoy Retome, who will be a senior this fall.
Retome said he’s not worried about getting hurt but is willing to try the extra padding.
“I think it’s a good investment because we’re going to have less concussions, more protection,” said Retome.
A spokesperson for Guardian Caps said coaches around the country tell the company they’re seeing fewer injuries after putting the caps on helmets.
The company said approximately 1,000 high schools have the padding, including about a dozen in Washington.
Another 100 colleges use the caps in practice, including Eastern Washington University, Central Washington University, and University of Puget Sound.