A Wheaton College freshman lacrosse player is being forced to sit out simply because his head is too big.
No, he doesn’t have an overly large ego. His head is literally too big — and nobody can find a helmet that is big enough to protect him.
Alex Chu, who stands 6-feet, 265 pounds, was recruited to Wheaton College to join the lacrosse team. Upon arrival at the Division III program, however, both he and the school have been unable to find an approved helmet big enough for him.
Without an NCAA-approved helmet, Chu is limited only to participating in conditioning drills with the team.
“Lacrosse is kind of my whole life,” Chu told the Boston Globe. “I can’t remember ever going this long without playing.”
In high school, Chu wore a “rigged-up helmet” that a local fabricator made after combining the front and back parts of two different helmets. That fabricator, however, is no longer in business.
The goalie used that helmet for two years after it was approved for use, however the helmet was too beaten up for him to use in college. It also wasn’t approved by the National Operating Committee for Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE), which approves all helmets worn in NCAA-sanctioned sports.
Chu said that his head circumference is just larger than 25 inches, “so big that he can’t even get the largest available helmet over his ears,” according to The Globe.
While one of the two manufacturers of lacrosse helmets, Cascade-Maverick or Warrior, could make him a custom helmet, a Warrior representative told The Globe that would be “cost-prohibitive” because retooling the machinery would cost “tens of thousands of dollars.”
“Nobody can believe the nightmare my son is caught in,” Alex’s mother, Alison Chu, wrote in an email to The Globe. “All he wants is to play lacrosse. He’s got the dedication. He’s got the skills. He just needs the helmet.”
A large, custom lacrosse helmet is not unheard of, however, Cascade-Maverick, per the report, recently helped create a custom helmet for Albany star Tehoka Nanticoke. Albany, one of the better Division I programs, made the Final Four last season. That helmet was made after coaches and the company “huddled up,” an Albany spokesperson said.
The last time Alison attempted to speak with Cascade-Maverick, however, a company representative “angrily hung up on her.”
“It’s extremely frustrating,” NOCSAE executive director Mike Oliver told The Globe. “But we don’t have leverage over the manufacturers. We can’t compel them to make a special helmet. We can encourage them, cajole them, work with them, but not command them.”
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