Booker T's Soccer Team Now Requires Protective Head Gear
TULSA, Oklahoma - Practice looked a little different for the Booker T. Washington boys' soccer team Wednesday.
The Hornets are one of the first teams in Oklahoma to require wearing protective headgear during practice and games.
For many players, Wednesday's practice was the first time trying the padded headbands, and for the goalkeepers, padded helmets. The gear is made by a company called Full90.
Senior Juan Saldivar is used to the head gear by now. Two years ago, he suffered a severe concussion.
"I dove on the ground, a guy was just able to clip me with his knee, and I had a big bump on my head," Saldivar explains.
He ended up with a migraine that lasted two months.
"My head would just start killing me and I couldn't do it anymore," he said.
Saldivar’s doctor recommended he wear the head gear, so he's done it ever since.
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, soccer is the fifth-leading cause of concussions among boys, and second-highest for girls.
Booker T's girls' team started wearing the head gear last season.
"There's a lot of head-to-head contact, (like) if you're going up for a header," head coach Robert Wakely said.
Wakely said it's more common in soccer than you might think that players collide with each other, or with the ball.
Janet Duvall said she does worry about her son, Drew, who plays on the varsity team.
"He's a keeper, so my biggest concern with him is hitting the bar as he dives," Duvall said. "But that's just being a parent."
Wakely said he sees it every single year - a player gets a concussion, loses a Division 1 scholarship and his life is changed forever.
"Every season for the last six years, since I became head coach, we've had at least one player who had a serious, career-ending injury from a concussion," Wakely said, calling it "heartbreaking."
Hopefully, this season will be different.