A new book written by Rob Stolker, the founder of Hummingbird Sports, includes a number of inaccuracies and misleading statements about US Lacrosse, the national governing body for lacrosse.

In promotional copy for the book, Stolker falsely claims that the company faced “venomous resistance” from US Lacrosse and other members of the lacrosse community in bringing its women’s headgear product to market and that US Lacrosse has ignored the seriousness of head injuries among youth players.

In reality, US Lacrosse works closely with researchers, scientists, medical experts and manufacturers, and has taken on a leadership role for nearly a decade on this specific issue. US Lacrosse initially helped to create a women’s headgear standard, and has since led efforts to research the efficacy of different prevention mechanisms while educating the lacrosse community about the prevention and treatment of head injuries.

Here’s a brief timeline of US Lacrosse’s involvement in the development of a headgear performance standard designed specifically for women’s lacrosse:

  • Since 2010, US Lacrosse has invested over $500,000 in research funding to study and understand the mechanisms of head injury in women’s lacrosse. That investment is just a portion of over $1 million that the organization has invested in lacrosse-specific safety research.
     
  • In 2011, US Lacrosse joined forces with researchers, scientists, medical experts, and equipment manufacturers in a collaborative effort to develop a scientifically-based performance standard for women’s headgear products.
     
  • In 2012, US Lacrosse became a member of an ASTM Task Group on women’s lacrosse headgear, after its earlier request to NOCSAE to help develop a women’s lacrosse-specific standard was denied.
     
  • Ann Carpenetti, vice president of lacrosse operations at US Lacrosse, served as co-chair of the ASTM’s Committee F08.53 – the women’s lacrosse headgear task group. Several other US Lacrosse staff members also provided their expertise as committee members.
     
  • In 2015, ASTM approved the first-ever performance standard for women’s lacrosse headgear (F3137), developed to help reduce impact forces associated with stick and ball contact in women’s lacrosse.
     
  • In 2015, US Lacrosse announced an update to youth and high school rules, effective January 1, 2017, that all optional headgear used must meet the ASTM standard, F3137. (The first products meeting the standard, from Cascade and Hummingbird, came on the market in 2016).
     
  • In 2020, the use of women’s headgear remains optional for all levels of play (youth, high school and college) in the United States as US Lacrosse continues to fund independent research to study and determine the efficacy of headgear products before deciding whether or not to mandate their use by all players. The current US Lacrosse rules allowing for optional headgear use are consistent with decisions made by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). US Lacrosse reviews its rules annually.

The most recent injury study from the NFHS shows that concussions in girls’ lacrosse have remained stable at a time when they are rising significantly in other sports.

US Lacrosse is currently helping to fund a study led by Dr. Dan Herman of the University of Florida to examine the effectiveness of women’s headgear in minimizing the risk of injury among high school girls’ players. Originally, data collection was set to be completed at the end of the 2020 high school season, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of most high school lacrosse in 2020. The study has been extended to include data collection through the 2021 season.

“To date, we have some lab studies, but we don’t have good evidence that involves players’ or opponents’ behavior while wearing headgear,” said Dr. Andrew Lincoln, director of the MedStar Sports Medicine Research Center and a member of the US Lacrosse Sports Science and Safety Committee. “Some of the previous studies have been limited to testing headgear in a lab. This study will hopefully give us a better understanding of what will happen on the field.”

“Through the work of both our Sports Science and Safety Committee and our Girls’ Rules Committee, US Lacrosse is committed to developing rules and strategies to minimize the injury risk for athletes,” said Caitlin Kelley, women’s game director at US Lacrosse. “We want to make the most informed decisions we can and utilize data specific to the women’s game as we shape existing rules and equipment. This study respects the specificity of women’s lacrosse and the thoughtful work and research that has gone into the ASTM standard and the development of appropriate equipment.”