A $52,500 donation from an anonymous donor has provided the Fremont High School football program with 130 new helmets outfitted with sensors designed to monitor how hard players are hit.
The Riddell Speedflex helmets, which cost $400 each, include the company's InSite Impact Response System.
The system includes special sensor pads embedded inside the helmet that are supposed to monitor and register the force and severity of hits, so coaches and athletic trainers can monitor players for concussions and other head injuries.
Seth McClain, the head football coach at FHS, said he is impressed by the concussion technology included in the new helmets and the generosity of the Fremont community.
“We were excited about the opportunity to have these helmets," McClain said. "They will be an extremely useful tool for us. It is really just mind-blowing that people in the Fremont community care enough to make such a generous donation to us and our program. We are just overwhelmed, and very grateful, for what we have been given in these helmets.”
Creighton Prep was the first Metro area school to use the Riddell Speedflex helmets and they did so during the 2017 football season. This season FHS, the seven high schools in the Omaha Public Schools system and Bellevue West, are all using them.
The push to utilize the concussion-technology-equipped helmets was triggered, in part, by a brain injury a student suffered last year in a game Creighton Prep played against Papillion-La Vista.
After a hit, Papillion-La Vista player Brandon Steburg felt dizzy and disoriented and lost consciousness. He ended-up spending six days in a medically-induced coma and had part of his skull removed because of his head injury.
Jake Heineman, a senior defensive end on the FHS varsity football team this season, said he is a fan of the safety features included in the new helmets.
“I think it will help a lot with the safety of all of us players," Heineman said. "It will help keep guys healthy and recognize head injuries much faster than before. It will also keep us in check, making sure we are not overdoing it and taking too many hits, whether it be in-game or just every day during practices.”