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Palm Beach Post (Florida)

In an effort to protect against head injuries, the Florida High School Athletic Association will require girls lacrosse players to wear helmets beginning in 2015.

The FHSAA adopted the measure at its Board of Directors meeting Tuesday in Gainesville. Boys lacrosse players already are required to wear helmets during competition.

Currently, goggles are the only protective headgear girls lacrosse players are required to wear. Girls do have the option of wearing soft helmets, FHSAA spokesman Corey Sobers said.

"Our board is very committed to addressing the safety of our student-athletes," Sobers said. "Any protective headgear that can lessen impact -- whether it's stick-to-head, blow-to-head, body contact-to-head -- that's a positive step."

Florida will be the only state to require girls lacrosse players wear helmets during competition, Sobers said.

US Lacrosse, the national governing body for men's, women's and youth lacrosse, does not require girls lacrosse players to wear protective headgear.

The FHSAA has not decided whether it will require soft or hard helmets next season, or what the cost to schools would be, Sobers said.

The decision came as little surprise to local players and coaches, most of whom do not support the measure.

Helmets can be costly, they say, and don't always protect against concussions and other head injuries.

"I personally don't think it's necessary as there are a significant amount of rules to limit contact and injury as it is," said Kyla Rakoczy, a middie and captain for Spanish River. "Also, I hope the school provides helmets, as we may lose girls from the sport that cannot afford an expensive piece of equipment like a helmet."

Players and coaches also expressed concern that requiring helmets would lead to more aggressive play.

"Players will believe they are protected," said Phoebe Stirm, an Oxbridge Academy middie. "But when women's lacrosse is properly officiated and coached, it is a very safe game. Perhaps the FHSAA should concentrate on teaching proper technique and rules."

Referee training would go a long way in helping protect against injury, agreed Cardinal Newman coach Cora Delfini.

"I just feel that Florida lacrosse really needs to come together and come up with a plan for coaching, reffing, and playing so that everyone is on the same page and less injuries will occur," she said.

June 13, 2014 

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