Paul Krome | @paulkrome
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Daydreaming and the beach go hand in hand, so you can’t blame Bruce Griffin if he didn’t believe his eyes while thumbing through Twitter on vacation with his family in Oak Island, N.C., during the summer of 2012.
Griffin, who holds three degrees in health and safety and whose background includes coaching youth sports, saw a tweet from US Lacrosse advertising an open position—director of health and sport safety.
“My dad was in this line of work, so I started to gravitate toward it even when I was younger,” said Griffin, who spent nearly two decades working at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, most recently as its chief risk officer.
As his son, Keen, started to play lacrosse in the Triad Youth Lacrosse Association (N.C.), Griffin, as most dads do, helped coach. He got involved in the US Lacrosse Coaching Education program and, as members, the family received a subscription to Lacrosse Magazine.
“I saw Steve Stenersen’s blog online and the articles in the magazine, and I could see the commitment US Lacrosse had to the safety of players,” Griffin said. “I was at the beach with the family and saw the Twitter post and thought, ‘That’s awfully interesting.’”
Griffin applied, got the job and now spends his days coordinating the myriad of initiatives US Lacrosse is pursuing, largely through its Sports Science and Safety Committee, to study lacrosse injuries, reduce their impact on athletes, and make the sport safer. That the organization even created such a position resonated throughout the sports medicine community.
“It is a testament of the commitment that US Lacrosse has made to improving and protecting the health and safety of players that a full-time employee has been provided to help our committee of volunteers stay focused and achieve our goals,” said Margot Putukian, chair of the US Lacrosse Sports Science and Safety Committee and director of athletic medicine at Princeton University. “US Lacrosse has continued to devote a significant amount of resources to support research and education as it relates to sport-specific medical issues, which is quite impressive to me.”
Indeed, thanks largely to the financial resrouces generated by members of US Lacrosse and donors to the US Lacrosse Foundation, US Lacrosse has directed more than $500,000 toward player safety studies and efforts. Initiatives touch on everything from proper hydration and nutrition for lacrosse players, to prevention of abuse, ACL injury prevention and rehabilitation, head injuries, and more.
For Griffin, who grew up in Maryland and played football, baseball and lacrosse, it’s an opportunity to keep lacrosse true to its roots. He’s partially motivated by wanting to reduce the instances of extreme, often necessary contact, at least in the men’s game, that doesn’t pertain to the play of the sport on the field. Off the field, you can find Griffin fly fishing, where his mind may wander, but others will tell you its never far from player safety in lacrosse.
“Bruce has hit the ground running, and his expertise and enthusiasm have been extremely helpful in advancing our committee’s work,” Putukian said.
US Lacrosses’s initiatives to study injuries and maximize player safety are made possible in part by donations to the US Lacrosse Foundation, the philanthropic arm of US Lacrosse. To support the responsible growth of the sport, please consider making a donation at uslacrosse.org/donate.