Bruce Griffin, second from right, pictured with staff and colleagues at LaxCon.

In 2013, Bruce Griffin joined US Lacrosse as the organization’s first director of health & safety. With little more than a general outline to serve as his guide, he quickly came to understand that he had the latitude to determine exactly how to advance those causes within the lacrosse community. 

Women’s headgear, commotio cordis, rule changes, protective equipment, concussions, research, AEDs, education programs, and insurance are but a few of the initiatives that Griffin has been involved with during his tenure. He has served as a liaison with many science and medical experts nationwide in successfully advancing these causes, and enthusiastically assisted US Lacrosse colleagues and the organization’s membership in gaining a fuller understanding of lacrosse-related safety issues.

Griffin came to US Lacrosse from a position in higher education, and this week, he returns to academia with a new position at Towson (Md.) University.

“Bruce brought the health and safety initiatives of US Lacrosse to a whole new level,” said Andrew Lincoln, ScD, director of the MedStar Sports Medicine Research Center. “His regular contributions on the national stage with groups like ASTM, NOCSAE, and NCAA made it possible to develop evidence-based standards and policies for topics such as concussion management, headgear and other protective equipment, and substance abuse that have improved the lacrosse experience for players at all levels.” 

Griffin has also been on the frontlines of leading US Lacrosse’s deepening commitment to safety research. He was instrumental in the creation of the Center for Sport Science at US Lacrosse in 2016, which is committed to expanding research that investigates issues within the broad discipline of sports medicine.

The national governing body has spent $1.5 million dollars in support of safety-related research efforts since 1998, including over $700,000 since the inception of the CSS four years ago.

“Bruce has fostered the development of lacrosse-related research so that there's now a national network of scientists who are advancing our understanding of the best ways to keep players healthy and safe,” Lincoln said. 

One of the priorities for Griffin was to utilize the prowess of the clinical and research experts who serve on US Lacrosse’s Sports Science & Safety Committee. Cultivating the guidance of that group led to important changes in the men’s and women’s games during his tenure, including the implementation of age appropriate rules, mental health programs for youth athletes, and the development of evidenced based best practices and guidelines for youth athletes and youth events.

“Bruce has been a real organizing force for the work of the Sports Science and Safety Committee,” said longtime committee member Dr. Richard Hinton. “He has overseen a reorganization of our structure into a much more efficient platform and has been able to bring our work to a greater audience both in the lacrosse community and the sports medicine world. It has been a pleasure to work with Bruce.” 

Griffin’s steadfast commitment to advancing significant initiatives was greatly appreciated by members of the committee.

“Through his leadership he played a key role in advancing our mission of improving the health and safety of our community,” said Dr. Eugene Hong, MD, current chair of the SS&S Committee. “It has been a pleasure to work shoulder to shoulder with Bruce. He truly exemplifies the values of US Lacrosse.”

Dr. Margot Putukian, director of athletic medicine at Princeton University, preceded Hong as chair of the SS&S Committee, serving in the role from 2009-2019. She recalls being part of the interview process that helped bring Griffin to US Lacrosse.

“I’ll never forget his enthusiasm, professionalism, and passion for the health and safety initiatives that our committee had and how he embraced those efforts,” Putukian said. “Soon after he was hired, he was able to quickly move on so many old initiatives as well as create new ones and was able to harness all of our committee members’ expertise and make progress on so many of our initiatives. Without him, it might have taken twice as much time, or maybe never have been accomplished.” 

Griffin also worked closely with RPS Bollinger to coordinate many aspects of US Lacrosse’s insurance program for members. His goal was always to bring as much value to this membership benefit as he could.

“Bruce approaches everything he does with an academic’s love of facts, research, and figuring out how things work or how he can make them work better,” said Lori Windolf Crispo, area president at RPS Bollinger Sports & Leisure. “We worked closely together on the Insurance/Risk Management Committee and on other special projects, to which he has always given his all. It makes your day better when you get to work with people you enjoy.”

In recent years, Griffin was one of the leaders in the technical development of the performance standard for women's lacrosse headgear and also advanced the work that led to the development of a commotio cordis protection standard. 

"Hiring Bruce as our first-ever dedicated staff person overseeing our Sports Science & Safety function was one of the best decisions our organization ever made,” said Ann Kitt Carpenetti, vice president of lacrosse operations at US Lacrosse. “Bruce made immeasurable contributions to US Lacrosse in his time here and the relationships he built with colleagues in the Safe Sport and sports medicine space have helped to secure US Lacrosse's position as a leader among NGBs in the sport safety space.” 

“Bruce’s commitment and passion for the sport of lacrosse and the Sport Science & Safety Committee was inspiring, and it was an honor and privilege to work with him,” Putukian said.