Students participating in contact sports will be required to wear headbands designed to decrease the chance of a concussion.
They look like ordinary navy blue headbands, but their function exceeds just sopping up forehead sweat. As Storm King School athletes take to the field and court this year, a majority of them will be wearing these headbands.
No, it's not about team unity, but rather reducing the risk of suffering a concussion during competition.
"We've always been conscious of our kids' safety," Athletic Director Joseph Graziosi said. "Concussion is a very major injury. We felt we needed to lead and take it to the next level."
The girls lacrosse players actually started wearing the headbands two years ago, but with soccer getting so much attention in the concussion area, Graziosi thought it was time to be proactive.
He spent the summer researching various brands. He finally settled on Dr. C.J. Abraham's ForceField Protective Sweatband.
Inserted inside the headband is an impact absorbing polymeric material designed to reduce impact up to 80 percent for young children and over 50 percent for teens and adults.
Graziosi explained concussions aren't caused by the actual impact with a ball or another player, but rather the jarring nature of it. Research also showed heading a soccer ball doesn't cause concussions, but rather head-to-head or elbow-to-head contact.
In his nine years with the school, Graziosi reports only three incidences of concussions. He added he doesn't know how many students may have suffered a concussion, but were asymptomatic.
While the headband won't eliminate the risk of concussions, it could help curtail low-impact, asymptomatic concussions.
Students who play soccer, volleyball, or basketball will wear the headbands, along with any other student who wants one. Boys lacrosse players, as well as wrestlers, already wear protective headgear or helmets so they would be precluded from wearing the headbands.
None of Storm King's rivals require their athletes to wear headbands, but Graziosi believes other schools may take interest and follow suit.