New Jersey-based Hummingbird Sports owner Rob Stolker has four daughters, and as someone who always played sports growing up, he encouraged his daughters to do the same when they were old enough.

So when his two youngest came to him eight years ago and told him they wanted to get into lacrosse, Stolker didn’t hesitate to say yes, even though he didn’t know anything about it. sports at the time.

But after being drafted in as an assistant coach, he learned quickly – and it wasn’t all good from his perspective.

“I arrived on the pitch and couldn’t believe what I saw: the boys were on one pitch wearing big hard hats, pads, and the girls were on another, just wearing goggles to protect their eyes,” Stolker said.

Stolker figured that must be a problem, and the more he talked about players, past and present, the more he realized that was the case.

“One shot, accidental stick to the head, accidental bullet to the head, what it does to them not a month later, which is horrible, a year later, no, eight years, 10 years – most likely , always later”, he said.

Change the culture

The shortage of headgear in girls’ lacrosse is exacerbated by what Stolker calls the culture of the sport, where he said the powers that be at USA Lacrosse, along with many other former players and parents, have the attitude that “girls don’t wear helmets” or “they don’t need them”.

But after seeing the action of the game live, he felt he couldn’t let his own girls play unless they were goalkeepers – the only position that is helmeted in girls’ play.

It all amounted to a feeling in Stolker’s mind that the game itself was becoming more important than the safety of his young players.

“Culture is a certain way,” he said. “I always say that if you went to a ski slope 15 or 20 years ago and you went to see a good skier with a helmet, they would have looked at you and said, ‘Get out of here, I’m a good skier.’ They probably wouldn’t have liked you to even insinuate that they were wearing a helmet.”

New Jersey is dragging its feet

In Florida, helmets are mandatory for girls’ lacrosse at the high school level, and Stolker said a study showed head injuries decreased by 59% while participants felt the spirit of the game was not had not changed.

Yet New Jersey, he said, did nothing.

But not for lack of having tried Stolker. He created what he says is the first-ever patented and certified headgear designed for young female lacrosse players.

Now he just wants USA Lacrosse to support him.

“I’m calling them and saying you gotta do the right thing by requiring every girl in the country to play the big game of girls’ lacrosse with their heads protected,” Stolker said.

He suggests anyone looking for more information to check out brainsafetyalliance.com.

Patrick Lavery is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]

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