It’s not just NFL and NCAA players who will be wearing Vicis’ new football helmet this season — teenagers will get to try it out, too.
Sam Treat is a sophomore at Garfield High School in Seattle who just received the Vicis ZERO1, a new high-tech helmet designed to mitigate the forces thought to cause concussions.
He’s one of just 100 high school players who will wear the helmet this upcoming football season. Many more NFL and NCAA players will do the same.
My GeekWire colleague Chelsey Ballarte stopped by Treat’s house this week and interviewed him as he opened the box from Vicis.
“That’s pretty cool,” Treat said as he lifted the helmet and tried it on for the first time.
After spinning out of the University of Washington four years ago, Vicis is now ready to have its product out in the wild. The helmet, which is manufactured at Vicis’ new production facility in Seattle, has multiple layers that absorb impact before it reaches a player’s head.
Vicis recently garnered national attention after its helmet finished first in the NFL’s 2017 Helmet Laboratory Testing Performance Results, which assessed 33 helmets that could be worn in the upcoming 2017 season and determined which was best at reducing head impact severity experienced by players during games.
Treat, who plays tight end and linebacker, first noticed how snug the helmet fit around his head. The high schooler also said the facemask provided a wider window of vision and noted that the chinstrap was comfortable.
“The color is awesome,” he added.
Treat’s mother, Carol Rava — also CEO of the Technology Alliance in Seattle — began tracking Vicis after reading about the company on GeekWire. She then signed up to be apart of a limited public release because she was concerned about her son’s safety.
Rava said the price point — $1,500 — was expensive, but noted that “there is no better investment in your children than in their brains — growing them academically and protecting them in sports.”
“My son has dreams of the NFL, but whether or not he makes the big time, it’s not his body that’s the ticket to his future — it’s his brain,” Rava said.
Treat will be the only player at Garfield with a Vicis helmet; players are responsible for providing their own helmets.
“It’s going to give me the best chance to still play the sport I love without some of the things that the older NFL players are experiencing now,” he said.
The 100 helmets going to high school athletes are part of a pilot to help Vicis refine its process for product configuring, color matching, fitting, and fulfillment. The company is focused on fulfilling orders this season for NFL and NCAA teams, but may release additional helmets for individual sale later this year.
Ultimately the goal for Vicis is to get the price of its helmet down and serve more youth players.
“There are a lot of parents sitting around the dinner table throughout America, concerned about their kids playing football and other contact sports like girls soccer, for example,” Vicis CEO Dave Marver told GeekWire this week. “We feel like we have a group of engineers that has developed a lot of expertise and is deeply committed to helping people. We want to take what we’ve learned in developing this football helmet and extend that into other sports.”