BILLINGS — Player safety in football has been a hot topic in recent years. Billings Central has taken that strongly into account and is implementing the top-rated VICIS ZERO1 football helmet across its entire roster.
“I give coach Stanton all that credit. He has researched the stuff heavily,” Billings Central principal Shel Hanser said. “Coach, the safety is very important to him. Football is very important to him. It’s an important sport in his world, his family and everything. I think the safety part is critical for him. He came to me with it. I certainly respect that career that he’s had and said, ‘listen, if this is something that you think is important, we’re going to make it happen.”
The ZERO1 has received the highest performance rating in NFL/NFLPA helmet performance testing three years running. It features a deformable outer shell and a unique columnar layer designed to slow impact forces while enhancing player performance. Several high-profile players, such as Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, wear the ZERO1 helmet.
“I think for people that haven’t really looked at it, if they looked online at VICIS and spent some time with the people from their company like we did, it’s really about the outer shell and how it absorbs the impact,” Hanser said. “You can see on this, if you push on that it’s like the bumper of a car. The research that they’ve done, NFL independent studies the last three years, top helmet out there. It is really the thing in terms of that movement.”
Billings Central is the first high school in Montana to implement the top-of-the-line technology. Hanser is hoping that other schools can follow suit, but the financial feasibility will be a hurdle to overcome. It was made possible for Billings Central with a large donation and contributions from parents.
“It’s an economics thing. I think that everybody has the same goal, that everybody wants student safety to be at the top of all their programs, and we’re no different. It’s a big commitment,” Hanser said. “I’m very grateful for our catholic school community for really stepping up and allowing this to happen. I think over time you’ll see a lot of movement to this kind of deal with student safety.”
Although the VICIS ZERO1 won’t eliminate concussions and head and neck injuries from the game entirely, the helmets are a step in the right direction to ensure player safety.
“I think all of the talk with concussions, and I mean everything has changed in football. The way kids tackle, the rules have adjusted to player safety, as well,” Hanser said. “Certainly, this isn’t going to minimize all concussions. Kids can take a hard fall and the head can go back and then that would be. I think in terms of the severity of the impact when the head is involved, that’s what this really reduces. The domino effect is that that’s going to reduce the amount of times kids are hit hard in the head.”
For more information about VICIS ZERO1 helmets click here.