Blair Oaks Football coach uses new equipment to fix an old problem
WARDSVILLE – After an extensive review of the Blair Oaks football program, the team will enter next season with new, safer equipment.
Blair Oaks High School held a fundraiser in early April to raise money that would help subsidize the cost of the new gear. Community members, school staff, players and parents took part in and helped organize the event.
Coach Terry Walker inspected the helmets and shoulder pads, and with the help of the school, purchased new helmets and shoulder pads for the players.
“In football, you get knocked down over and over and have to get back up,” Walker said. “It helps knowing our guys will have some extra padding out there.”
Although head injuries were not an “extreme issue” last season, Walker said there were a few hits resulting in concussions.
“I think last year we had about three to four concussions,” Walker said. “And to be quite honest, four is too many.”
Blair Oaks dominated last season, advancing all the way to the Class 3 State Finals. The players did not say the new equipment would win them a state championship, but they all agreed it would help.
“The new stuff is some of the best you can get,” quarterback Jake Vanronzeoen said. “We’ll definitely feel a lot safer hitting, and getting hit too.
“With the new shoulder pads we’ve got, you can’t really feel the hit because the shoulder pads absorb the shock,” runningback Brenden Brown said.
Walker said the new helmets have the same protective shell as the older ones, but offer an additional safety measure the old ones do not.
“With the suspension helmet, it slows the movement of the head at contact,” Walker said. “So there will be far less of a chance at a serious jerk that might cause a concussion.
Parents of the players were very supportive of the new change, agreeing that it was a necessary adjustment.
“It’s tough when one of our kids goes down on the field,” Kimberly Atnip said. “You always wait for that little moment, just hope that they get back up, and your heart kind of sinks for a few seconds.”
“Knowing that we’re doing this, giving my child, my friends’ children, the utmost protection,” fundraiser co-chair Chad Laune said. “It’s just very comforting.”
Walker said the school is paying for the helmets and a local booster club will buy the shoulder pads.