By Chereese Cross and Xueying Luo
Two weeks ago, Amy Hoeffner a senior varsity lacrosse player at Bay Shore High School, walked onto the lacrosse playing field with more than just her lacrosse goggles. For the first time she had on a helmet.
“I was really nervous, I actually like cried a little when we first got it,” Hoeffner said. “I was so embarrassed that no one else had it and I was being made to wear it [but] once I got to practice and I started playing with it, it was ok so I kept wearing it.”
This lacrosse season, Long Island high school girl lacrosse teams will have the option to wear helmets. The new rule was written by US Lacrosse this past August, in order to be ready for the starting season in March. The rule will apply to all levels of girls and women’s lacrosse. Though the helmets are supposed to add a layer of protection for players, some worry bringing them to the game will foster a violent style of playing among girls.
“I hate it, it’s going to change the dynamic of the game [and] it will make it more aggressive than it already is,” Scott Fitzgerald, head coach of Smithtown Girls Lacrosse, said. Less than five girls wear helmets on his team of 200.
While girl lacrosse players head to the field with just a mouth guard and goggles for protection, male lacrosse players have been gearing up with shoulder, arm, and rib pads, chest protectors and gloves for some time. The rules for girls lacrosse and boys lacrosse are also much different.
“It is a completely different game. The girls’ game has no contact. It is not a collision sport,” Fitzgerald said. In boys’ lacrosse, a high contact sport, players are allowed to stick check and body check, but females are not allowed to body check or in other words get in person-to-person contact with other players.
“If you have a player wear a helmet there’s gonna be a chance there’s a false sense of confidence on the field,” Dr. Craig Feuerman, owner of City Sports Medicine in New York City, said. “They can play more aggressively which increases the risk to concussions, so if I wear a helmet I’m more likely to take unnecessary chances on the field whereas if I didn’t have a helmet I’d be more cautious and protect my head more,” Feuerman said.
“I think [the helmet] does provide a small measure of safety,” Shari Campbell, Farmingdale High School Head Coach, said. “Will it prevent concussions? No, I don’t think it will prevent concussions. We have two goalies that are out right now with a concussion because they took a shot off of their helmet so I don’t think the headgear can stop concussions from happening, but I think it is just another level of safety.”
Farmingdale High School bought helmets for the entire team last month, but of all 27 girls on the team none wear them Campbell said. “The girls don’t wanna use them, they’re uncomfortable. We brought a couple out to practice, a couple kids ran around with them for a couple of minutes, they said they didn’t like them and took them off.”
Even though the helmets are not mandatory now, as a measure of safety the helmets could very likely become mandated by the state in a year or two, Campbell said.