By Jerry Del Priore
When Hummingbird Sports’ Co-founder and CEO Rob Stolker’s two youngest of four daughters asked their dad if they could play lacrosse, he was all gung-ho at first, as they were athletic in nature.
But when Stolker realized that the girls didn’t wear helmets like their male counterparts, he objected to their participation in lacrosse. There wasn’t any form of skull defense for the girls who engaged in the fast-paced, aggressive ball-and-stick sport.
“The fact that there is no head protection (for girls), is beyond me, from day one,” Stolker incredulously said. “I wouldn’t let my kids play.”
Some lacrosse fans, parents, and coaches alike feel a helmet may lead to more fierce play by girls because of the confidence the added protection might bring them, leading to more possible injuries.
But, without any headgear defense, Stolker believes girls are left quite vulnerable.
That spurred Hummingbird Sports™, a female-focused sporting equipment brand founded in 2014, to collaborate with Windpact™ and its Crash Cloud™ technology in 2016. The result? Hummingbird Sports became the first company to bring to market a headgear sophisticated enough to meet the new American Society for Testing and Materials International (ASTM) Standard, WK36457.
ASTM is an international standards organization that develops and publishes voluntary consensus technical standards for a wide range of materials, products, systems, and services.
First inspired by the technology in his child’s car seat, Windpact brand founder and former All-Pro NFL cornerback Shawn Springs helped conceptualize and create the padding system comprised of an assembly of non-explosive airbags that absorb energy and disperses it through restrictive Impact Vents™ before instantly recovering shape and performance.
“Partnering with Hummingbird Sports allowed us together to reach an important milestone for Girls’ lacrosse,” Springs explained in a press release. “We are excited to be part of a team similarly passionate about revolutionizing head protection for growing and developing athletes.”
While there isn’t anything currently on the market to prevent a concussion, the soft-sided Hummingbird headgear, coupled with the harder inner shell, which offers 360 degrees of cranium protection, sets girls’ lacrosse head safety off to a good start. Add in the Crash Cloud high-tech padding, and the level of head trauma resulting from stick or ball contact to the head may be greatly reduced.
“Shawn’s technology absorbs and deflects the energy,” explained Susie Deignan, former senior global brand development director for Converse and a current managing partner at Hummingbird Sports. “It could lessen the suffering of a concussion.”
With girls’ lacrosse safety at the forefront, and the year underway, Stolker and Windpact are committed to providing a better overall girls’ lacrosse experience.
“With the season upon us, we are thrilled to debut this ground breaking new safety technology,” Stolker said. “Hummingbird Sports and Windpact are determined to make the game safer, and, in turn, more fun for everyone.”
Until recently, there wasn’t a helmet that met the new demanding ASTM Standard. But it was fully adopted by U.S. Lacrosse in January. However, US Lacrosse, NFHS and NCAA rules don’t mandate its use right now. But Stolker is optimistic that things will change in time.
“It’s going to be a process,” Stolker said. “But we’re confident that every (lacrosse) girl will wear a helmet.”
It’s important to note that the Florida High School Athletic Association, which required headgear for girls’ lacrosse before the 2015 season, will allow only ASTM-approved products starting in 2018.
Retailing at $139, The Hummingbird is available in an assortment of colors, with team customization offered. It also has a porthole for a ponytail, and is compatible with all mandatory lacrosse googles.