Pine Crest School is one of a handful of South Florida schools who is tackling the problem of head injuries in football.
Players on the high school football teams are using the latest technology from Riddell to track every single impact their players receive on the field.
“Not only does it allow us to know if a kid has taken a large impact to their helmet or to their head that maybe in the past we wouldn’t have seen or known about, but also during practices it allows us to track the total number of hits,” says Troy Harrison, the Pine Crest head football coach.
Middle school teams at the Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton campuses are also using tracking technology—the Boca Raton campus goes up to eighth grade.
For the last few seasons, Pine Crest has used Riddell’s InSite training tool (ITT)—the Panthers have been using the preliminary monitoring platform, but just recently debuted the ITT in their spring football practice.
Every Panther football player has a profile that documents each impact; their helmets are linked to the coaching staff’s sideline impact monitors, where coaches can receive alerts instantly. If a hit is considered atypical for a high school athlete, a real-time alert will be transmitted to the coaches’ sideline impact monitor. This way, any athlete can be taken care of accordingly.
Riddell communications manager Justin Kenny said this technology is in use in about 800 high schools and colleges around the country and about 40 in Florida. Westminster Academy and St. Thomas Aquinas are some schools that use ITT in South Florida.
ITT comes at the heels of a growing controversy surrounding head trauma in football players. In November 2018, a VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank study found that of the 190 of 202 football players who played in college or the NFL have been diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
CTE is a degenerative brain condition where repeated head impacts creates a protein that kills brain cells. It is usually found in athletes, military veterans and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma.
With growing concern over head injuries in heavy-contact sports such as football, some high school and college teams have changed their protocol and equipment to better protect their players. Pine Crest not only uses the Riddell ITT, but the teams also use the Heads Up tackling football initiative and it recently implemented the GForceTracker last season.
“We want to be on the forefront of just making sure that our football players are as safe as possible and have a great experience playing football,” Harrison said.
Pine Crest varsity football is set to begin their season in August.
CORRECTION: We incorrectly reported that the Riddell helmets were new to the school, we regret the error.