McAlester football players will stay safer and cooler with new helmet covers that few teams have statewide.

The McAlester Regional Health Center and the MRHC Foundation purchased 80 helmet covers totaling $3,000 for the local high school football team. McAlester football coach Forrest Mazey thanked the entities for providing the protective gear that will help improve health and safety across the program.

“When you talk about the hospital stepping up and doing this for us, that’s amazing,” Mazey said. “This is an amazing community to be a part of, there’s some amazing people in this community, and the hospital being able to do this for the kids that wear McAlester on their chest on Friday nights is awesome.”

McAlester Regional Health Center athletics business manager Mike Baker said Mazey inquired about what kind of equipment could help protect players from injuries resulting from contact to the head and they agreed on using Guardian Caps.

Guardian Caps reduce force of impact to the head by 20-33% depending on location and speed of the hit, according to the company.

More than 100 colleges and 1,000 high school use Guardian Caps and McAlester is one of 16 programs to use them in Oklahoma — including the University of Oklahoma, University of Central Oklahoma, Oklahoma Baptist University, Ada High School, Broken Arrow High Schools, and more.

“Any time you try to get ahead of the game when we talk about head injury and prevention, I think this is definitely a step in the direction we want to go and be a paramount program in the state of Oklahoma,” Mazey said.

Guardian Sports started in 2011 to develop sports equipment aimed at improve player health and safety. The company uses soft-shell helmet technology for various protective equipment for football and lacrosse players, but it also developed a re-engineered lacrosse ball, infill for synthetic turf fields, and continues working on other projects.

Baker, a 1988 McAlester High School graduate, added the head gear helps reduce concussions and other injuries from contact to the head.

“These are more suited for repetitive and cumulative hits, not just one blow,” Baker said.

Repetitive contact can cause concussions and recurring damage, so the company suggests mitigating force at the point of contact by decreasing time period of contact during the week and reducing the severity of hits.

Mazey, who enters his first season leading the Buffaloes football team, said he believes the new gear will help players stay safe and up to 7% cooler.

“I think that’s the biggest thing on the forefront for football, and any contact sport, is the concussions — they made a movie about it,” Mazey said. “So I think any time you want to be on the forefront of that, and you want to be a pioneer in that aspect in the best way you can. Some of these high schools have them already but we wanted to get in on that.”

Contact Adrian O’Hanlon III

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