An all-star high school lacrosse goalie in Massachusetts is being forced to sit out because no helmet exists to fit his large head. Freshman Alex Chu was recruited to play lacrosse for Wheaton College, but is now sidelined after the NCAA denied his appeal to play in his high school helmet.
No NCAA-approved helmet is large enough to fit Chu’s head, so for now he’s forced to participate in conditioning with the team, but nothing more. He spoke to the Boston Globe about the issue.
“Lacrosse is kind of my whole life,” Chu, 19, of Mendon, said when we met on campus. “I can’t remember ever going this long without playing.”
Chu had been using a one-off fabricated helmet made by a local manufacturer, which was just two helmets cut in half and fastened together. However, the NCAA will not allow him to wear the makeshift helmet — so now he’s waiting on one of the major helmet manufacturers to design one for him, but there’s no evidence that’s going to happen.
Warrior, one of the companies that makes sanctioned helmets for the NCAA, told the Boston Globe it was “cost prohibitive” to design a specially-made helmet for large-headed athletes. Mike Oliver, who approves helmets for play, explained the problem.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” he said. “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.”
So for now, a promising player is stuck on the bench — until a helmet is made that can fit his noggin.