A college lacrosse player is being forced to sit on the sidelines because he’s got a big head, and no one can find a helmet big enough to protect it.
The Boston Globe interviewed Wheaton College freshman Alex Chu, who said that without a helmet approved by the NCAA, he is permitted only to run sprints with the team and cannot play in games when the season begins.
“Lacrosse is kind of my whole life,” Chu told the Globe. “I can’t remember ever going this long without playing.”
While Chu was in Nipmuc Regional High School in Massachusetts, according to the Globe, he wore a helmet made by a local manufacturer that fused the front and back of two different helmets. With the fabricator now out of business, Chu awaits for one of two of the main manufacturers of lacrosse helmets, Cascade-Maverik and Warrior, to craft and fit him with a custom-made helmet approved by the NCAA.
The Globe reported that Chu, 19, hoped to use the same helmet he used in high school, but that it was “too cracked and tattered.” Still, the helmet lacked the required approval from the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE).
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Chu told the Globe that his head circumference is slightly larger than 25 inches. A Warrior company spokesman told the Globe that making a custom helmet would be “cost-prohibitive” because of the “tens of thousands of dollars as a general estimate” that would be required to retool factory machinery.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” NOCSAE executive director and legal counsel Mike Oliver told the Globe. “But we don’t have leverage over the manufacturers. We can’t compel them to make a special helmet. We can encourage them, cajole them, work with them, but not command them.”
Oliver added that he has started to make calls to manufacturers on Chu’s behalf.
According to the Globe, Cascade-Maverik recently fitted Tehoka Nanticoke, a star player at the University of Albany, which made the Final Four last season, with a larger, custom-made helmet. The Globe said it confirmed with a University of Albany spokesman that Nanticoke wears a large helmet that was made after Albany’s coaches and Cascade-Maverik “huddled up.”
The Globe reported that the last time Chu’s mother tried to contact a company representative at Cascade-Maverik, “he angrily hung up on her.”