On May 21st, the Choctaw High School Indians became the first Okaloosa County High School outfitted with EvoShield’s next generation, high tech abdominal injury protection shirts funded completely by the Taylor Haugen Foundation and the Dugas Family Foundation grant. Thanks to the generosity of the Dugas Family, more than 100 Choctaw football players received the same compression rib shirts commonly worn by many professional and collegiate athletes, including Jadeveon Clowney and RG III.
During the event, players received the EvoShield rib shirt and pads, designed to mold to their individual bodies. Brian Haugen, noted that this fitting is just the beginning of the YESS program’s expanded mission and vision. “We want to raise awareness about the availability of this type of equipment and put it in the hands of area coaches and trainers and on the torsos of our athletes, eventually making this program available to secondary schools across the country.”
The Choctaw event, which was attended by members of the Taylor Haugen Foundation Board of Directors and the All Sports Association, received media from coverage from the Northwest Florida Daily News and WEAR-TV. “With more local and regional media exposure, we hope other Okaloosa and Walton County schools will fill out the brief application and get the ball rolling in time to outfit their teams for summer practice.”, said Kathy Haugen. “Since the event, we have had conversations with Freeport High School, Bruner Middle School, and Baker School. We are looking forward to getting these athletes protected for the start of the 2014 season. “
Choctaw students are also the first team to participate in the Taylor Haugen Foundation/University of West Florida Epidemiology Study. Thought to be the first and only academic study of its kind, this project will track student athletes’ perception of their risk of abdominal injuries before and after being equipped with the EvoShield equipment. “While concussions continue to dominate conversations about football and sports safety, we are hoping the epidemiology study raises the profile of abdominal injuries and what we as parents, coaches, and educators can do to better protect our student athletes,” said Bernard Johnson, chairman of the Taylor Haugen Foundation.
Okaloosa and Walton County Schools are eligible to receive the EvoShield equipment at no cost to the school, and should fill out the application, available on the new YESS website. Other schools interested in the YESS program should contact the Taylor Haugen Foundation for details about the matching funds needed to secure the equipment.