N.C. school adopts new 'Smart Helmet Technology' to track, analyze impacts in football

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MOUNT HOLLY, N.C. (WBTV/Gray News) — At Mountain Island Charter in Mount Holly, school officials are making sure safety comes first before the football season starts and help players to prevent concussions.

A Mountain Island High School football player in North Carolina sports the team's new "smart helmet". (Source: WBTV)

Every player on the team will get a new helmet, which doesn't seem like a big deal, but as WBTV's Bria Bell found out, there's special equipment on the inside.

We've all seen the helmets with padding, but the Riddell InSite Smart Helmets that Mountain Island will be using this coming season is next level. The team had some concussions last season, but with the help of these new helmets they're hoping the number of concussions stays at zero.

The Raptors say they eat, sleep and breathe football, and plan to do so for years to come.

"Once I get to the NFL, I plan on playing for at least nine years," Omari Philyaw, freshman cornerback, said.

Experts say the physical stress of blocking and tackling can compare to the force of multiple car crashes at one time. Players say the hard hitting is just part of the game, which brings concerns for concussions and other head injuries.

"It's the risk you take playing the sport," said Christian Hunter, a sophomore wide receiver.

The team is hoping their new helmets with InSite Training Tool, or ITT, will be the game changer they need to stay healthy all season long.

"It gives us a piece of mind knowing that they're in the best helmet that we can put them on," said Matter Steger, the school's athletic director.

Inside the helmets, there are special sensors that will alert coaches and trainers how many times a player takes a hit to the head and where the contact happened in real time. Each player will have a profile through a web-based data center to help keep an eye on their behavior and condition whether it be practice or a game — this way, players can't hide if they're hurt.

The price to be concussion free isn't cheap.

Each helmet runs close to $400 according to an online pricing guide.

Raptors' head coach Robert Washington told WBTV there's no price tag they can put on safety.

"We're not really big on a price tag," Washington said. "It's about putting our kids in the best situation and making sure they're safe."

The players say it means a lot to know that the school cares enough to make such an investment so they can play the game they love and feel safe doing so.

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