Casa Grande High School football players will have an all new look next season with redesigned helmets sporting as yet secret team logos.
But, while players and fans may (or may not) be excited about the new look, it is really the helmet itself that is important, and that is really something to be excited about, according to Casa football coach Denis Brunk.
Every player in the Casa Grande program, from freshman to varsity veteran, is being outfitted with the new Vicis ZERO1 helmet. The helmet is the product of a 3-year, $20 million research project conducted by a Seattle-based start-up company funded by grants from the University of Washington.
Casa Grande is one of only four schools in the nation, and the first in California, to order the helmets for its entire program.
Unlike many of the new high-tech helmets that focus on monitoring the severity and number of hits to the head, the Vicis helmet focuses on reducing the impact of hits using multiple layers that work together to slow impact forces.
The helmet has a soft, resilient outer shell and an underlying layer of columns designed to mitigate collisions from different directions.
According to Brunk, the Vicis was rated No. 1 for safety by both the National Football League and the NFL Players Association.
Brunk compares the new helmets to newer automobiles with bumpers that will absorb the impact of a collision, unlike older model car bumpers that transfer the shock to the whole vehicle.
Two of Brunk’s sons played college football and a third is still playing at the level.
“If these helmets can reduce the chance of a head injury in any way, it is what I would want on my kids and it is what I want on my players,” he said.
Brunk doesn’t have a total cost for outfitting players for the entire program, but did stress that the Petaluma City Schools District will not be paying for the new helmets. The cost will be cov ered by a newly created Casa Grande Football Foundation that will fundraise and reach out for corporate and individual contributions, not only for the helmets, but for a variety of other football-related projects.
Brunk did say that, because Casa Grande was the first in the state to order the new helmets, the Petaluma school would be able to purchase them at a special rate that would be approximately the same as traditional helmets. Vicis’ representatives have been on campus this week, fitting players for their helmets.
Helmet shells will be refitted with inserts specifically for new individuals the following season.
“The players love them,” Brunk said. “They’re like, ‘Wow!’ ”
As a side benefit, the new helmets provide added material for the research paper Brunk is writing on football injuries as part of his Masters degree program.
“The timing was incredible,” he said.
As for the logos on the helmet — “That will be revealed at a later time,” the coach said.