OPS football coaches get trained on high-tech helmets

Posted at 10:35 AM, Aug 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-05 01:20:26-04

The runs. The hits.

All eyes look to the gridiron during a game, but now there’s a set that never stops watching the student-athletes.

It's the Riddell Speedflex, a helmet that’s being labeled as “state of the art,” according to Omaha Public Schools.

Every time a player is hit, an alert push goes to staff on the sidelines. Inside the helmet are sensors, part of a monitoring and alert program known as InSite Impact Response System. Every player is assigned a helmet, which features information about the student-athlete so the staff knows where the push alerts are coming from.

On Thursday, the helmets came just in time for football practice at all seven high schools beginning Aug. 7.

Bellevue West already did a trial run with about a dozen helmets, says Kelly Faiman, a local representative for the manufacturer.

As OPS coaches get the lowdown on the software, they eagerly embrace the technology.

The data push is sent in real time, says Devin Hamrick, business and marketing manager with Riddel who flew into town to present a two-day training session for the district’s athletic personnel.

"It's a very robust, expensive tool that collects a lot of data,” Hamrick says.

The Sherwood Foundation purchased more than 900 helmets, costing about $400 per unit.

With the financial hurdle out of the way, the next obstacle is how to interpret the information.

It gives coaches a more in-depth look into how to coach their student-athletes based off of a head impact data, according to Hamrick.

Benson High’s head football coach Tony Kobza says an impact alert will assess both coaching and player styles as well as establishing best practices in the field.

“The biggest thing I think is just the reading that is given over a seven-day period – to make sure –  just to see how often a kid is getting impacted,” Kobza says.

While the alert system can't tell staff whether a student-athlete is injured, the company believes it does advance the understanding of knowing whether a player received significant impact.