Rob Stolker, the CEO and founder of Hummingbird Sports, has been working hard for the last few years to keep girls safe while playing lacrosse. And in his new book, It's A No-Brainer: An Entrepreneur's Battle to Reduce Concussions in Girls' Lacrosse, Stolker talks about him and his team at Hummingbird Sports making state-of-the-art lacrosse helmets for girls as well as the encounters he has had with U.S. Lacrosse. PopCulture.com caught up with Stolker, who explained why he wanted to tell his story of making girls' lacrosse safer.
"My four daughters, they all played sports," Stolker said. "My two youngest asked me to play lacrosse, and I said 'Sure.' I took them to the field, boys on one side wearing hard helmets and girls on the other [wearing] nothing on their heads. Couldn't believe it." Stolker began asking questions about why girl lacrosse players didn't have helmets — and he didn't like the answers he was getting. He said he didn't let his daughters play lacrosse and began the process of making headgear, which took three years to fit the requirements of U.S. Lacrosse and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
"I knew there would be some resistance, but what U.S. Lacrosse has done, or has not done to hide information, to mislead people — I used the word in the book "baffling," but I have stronger language for that," Stolker stated. According to the official U.S. Lacrosse website, headgear for girls' lacrosse is optional. And in the video for girls' lacrosse headgear, Caitlin Kelly, the women's game senior manager at U.S. Lacrosse, stated there is no mandate nor any plans to mandate the use of headgear by U.S. Lacrosse of the NFHS.
"The boys' game is checking, very physical, knock each other down. They wear those big, hard helmets." Stolker said when explaining why girls aren't required to wear any headgear. "The girls' game is not supposed to be a physical game. It's supposed to be more open, free-flowing — but having said that, checking is a part of the game. They're actually putting rules in to allow light checking now. The fear from U.S. Lacrosse and the 10 or so people that make the decisions who have been around the game forever is if you put these headgears on these girls, it's going to turn into the boys game. It makes no sense whatsoever."
Despite U.S. Lacrosse not mandating headgear for the girls' sport, the state of Florida has decided to have their own mandate, and Stolker said "it's not going away." He also noted that girls' lacrosse has the second-most concussions on the high-school level behind football.
It's A No-Brainer has been a success, as it's ranked the top-selling lacrosse book on Amazon. The founder of Hummingbird Sports, which provides girls' lacrosse apparel as well as headgear, has received a lot of positive feedback from Kindle buyers, who said the book is "unbelievable" after reading the first three chapters.
Stolker is not sure what U.S. Lacrosse will think of the book, but he plans to write another one very soon. "The last book I want to write is after U.S. Lacrosse mandates [the use of girls' lacrosse helmets]," Stolker said. "I am going to write that book when U.S. Lacrosse mandates, and they are going to mandate. It's just a question of when."