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Sticking with recent trends toward making equipment safer for athletes, the Marist football team will don Riddell SpeedFlex helmets during the upcoming season.

The helmets, costing over $400 apiece, integrate additional head support and a sensor system that tracks the impact of hits to the head on the field. “This is another set of eyes and a tool we can use by being alerted by the helmet itself,” said assistant athletic trainer Justin Giuliano.

According to Riddell’s website, there are several new components in the SpeedFlex, including an increased force absorbed by the helmet and the concussion-monitoring technology. “The sensors will read a hit that a player takes … and it will transmit that to a monitor. I can then see which player received an impact high enough to make the monitor go off,” said Giuliano.

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The Riddell SpeedFlex uses sensors to monitor head hits and reduce concussion risks

This has improved the ability to diagnose concussions and prevent potential injuries. “Every concussion is different,” said coordinator of sports medicine Jeff Carter. “The more objective numbers we have, the less practitioner error that can occur. The numbers give us a much more definitive diagnosis.”

Head coach Jim Parady sees the helmets as a useful recruiting tool as well. “The moms and dads out there feel really comfortable…putting their sons out on the field knowing that they’re protected,” he said.

The helmets have been well-received by players thus far. “I’ve never seen them that excited about getting any piece of gear that we have ever gotten,” Parady said. The SpeedFlex headgear, which received the highest possible score in reducing concussion risks from Virginia Tech Helmet Ratings, has been worn in off-season practices and the annual Spring Game on April 22. “It’s definitely more comfortable and the helmets have more padding,” said red-shirt senior lineman Richard Duncan-Murphy.

The incorporated technology accounts for player safety and the helmets have been recognized as the best on the market. “Safety and concussions are a big piece of the football landscape,” Parady said. “This allows us to be at the top of the game in that aspect.”

The team will open the 2017 season at Bucknell on Saturday, Sept. 2.

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