ST. LOUIS — This week the Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School (MICDS) football program returned to the field under Phase 3 of St. Louis County’s return-to-play plan.
The team searched the market for a durable splash guard that could add more safety protection during the COVID-19 pandemic, but couldn’t find anything available that would fit their helmets, or serve the proper purpose.
So, MICDS senior linebacker Grant Purdy took matters into his own hands.
“Started by mocking up a 3D design,” Purdy said. “Putting it into a language that the laser cutter could understand, and then cutting them out of a polycarbonate material that is gonna be strong enough, and not gonna shatter or tear, or anything.”
In just one week, Purdy designed and produced splash guards for the entire team, with help from one faculty member in the MICDS maker space.
“It's just got these little velcros that let it connect there and that way there’s not zip ties or anything,” Purdy said. “They won’t break on contact. They’re just a little velcro, and then it just connects around that front part of the mask and stops any particulates from coming out.”
MICDS head football coach Fred Bouchard said the production of the shields showcase how badly Purdy and his teammates want to play this year.
He said they also help the team feel at ease during practice, and play a crucial role in safety moving forward.
“The quarterback yelling signals out,” Bouchard said. “I think just the heavy breathing that’s a part of the contest when somebody’s played 11 straight plays on a long drive. Those are the times where there’s more chance for exposure.”
Bouchard added that MICDS is hopeful for a 2020 season, and if it’s possible, they’ll be ready.
"We're just betting a little bit," Bouchard said. "If we do this, and we do this, and we do this then we reduce the exposures enough that it's pretty rare. And that's really what we're shooting for in football. To create situations where it's just super rare where we have exposures."