One thing I’ve learned about Cascade Lacrosse through my experiences working with them is that the team in Liverpool genuinely cares about player safety and the real effectiveness of the end-user product. This is why the new Cascade CS-R helmet excites me – It might just be the answer to every youth lacrosse parent’s prayers for a correctly fitted, and most importantly, protective lacrosse helmet.
Producing some of the most advanced sports headgear in the world is no easy task, so one shouldn’t be surprised to know that Cascade employs eye doctors and neurosurgeons in addition to its designers, engineers, and countless lacrosse all stars who help develop its high performance products. Clear back to 1989 and the first use of EPP foam in the Superlite helmet, each technology advancement at Cascade is fueled by the foundation set by the last. This has led to an unparalleled 28-year heritage of innovation.
Therefore, if there’s a young lacrosse player out there reading this right now, I think it’s entirely important for him to accept the purpose of the new CS-R helmet.
PROTECTION > COOL
Life is all about perspective, and sometimes within our sport, we fail to let our kids in on the bigger picture. For instance, just because you love the game, it doesn’t mean you need to sink all your money into the hottest new product that all the college and pro players are wearing. That’s a vital fact we often overlook as elder players, parents, and coaches no matter the talent level, legacy, or region.
Over the years, as my passion for the game has developed and I’ve become a seasoned coach, the technician inside me has become insanely cautious about the type of equipment I recommend to young players beginning their lacrosse careers. Every now and again I find myself telling a kid that his $200 piece of equipment just won’t do the trick… he’ll have to cut that d-pole down so it’s manageable for his stature, or he needs to wear more protective arm pads if he wants to play longterm.
When it comes to helmets in organized lacrosse or any other sport, the options for youth athletes are consistently questionable in my book. The top-down approach of R&D in sporting goods is not always favorable to youth products. While the stylistic components of products designed for adults can often transfer easily to youth models, the same cannot be said about protection and safety specifications. There is just too much on the line when it comes to a child’s development!
WHEN THE FIN POPPED, THE GAME STOPPED
My first encounters with lacrosse did not yield the most protective headwear, nor did team requirements in college. By the time I stepped out of the adult summer tournament circuit post-college, the Pro7 was the end-all-be-all in the minds of most guys who had experiences with other products. Around that time – at the dawn of the CPX-R – was when I remember starting to hear “live by the sword, die by the sword” type of evangelism from Cascade-wearing lacrosse players in my neck of the woods (West Coast).
I’m not sure if it was the automatic tilt or the fin on the back, but Cascade got the attention of the entire lacrosse community very quickly with the unveiling of the CPX-R. Suddenly, Cascade helmets were not just reliable, but also pretty cool and the most comfortable on the market. For those early adopters who picked one up before it had been proven yet, casually throwing on your CPX-R at summer league was all you needed to do to get anyone’s attention.
The “CPX-R” was successful because it combined exceptional design with proven technology that did what it was engineered to do. It’s no wonder the company was acquired! By 2013, recognizing the potential of the unique design as well as the promise of the Seven Technology engrained in it, Cascade ventured further with the release of the “R,” engineered for the world’s best lacrosse players with a new dual SevenTech™ and Poron®XRD™ liner system.
HEY, THAT’S NOT FOR THE KIDS!
Coincidently (or not), the sport of lacrosse has grown by leaps and bounds at the same time Cascade’s experts have continued to innovate in Liverpool. Around the time the “R” shell started to become popular, TV networks such as ESPN were buying into the sport and announcing an increase in number of broadcasts. With the new, expansive coverage of our sport and colorful nationwide lacrosse commercials in between quarters, the focus of media and industry quickly influenced the youth lacrosse market.
Suddenly young players highly invested in their own games were sporting R helmets as if it were the right thing to do, and that is not for whom the helmets were originally intended. Cascade and its parent company Bauer Sports Performance were quick to realize they could better serve the kids.
Designed specifically for youth lacrosse players under 12 to keep them safer and better off, the new CS-R helmet is a breathe of fresh air from Cascade. It combines the R flare with the technology and helmet structure a young player needs while they are still physically developing.
The helmet is made up of a one-piece shell and visor dubbed the “FutureStar Mono” attached to a 3-bar “Jr. R” facemask to reduce the helmet’s weight and improve the player’s field vision. Inside, it has a new Gen3 EPP and Poron®XRD™ Foam liner system that performs better than its predecessor, the CS, on helmet-to-helmet impacts while providing a secure and comfortable fit.
Finally, young athletes can benefit from protection scientifically intended for them, and at a reasonable price point compared to the pro-level models. The CS-R helmet is now available for purchase through equipment retailers for $139 and will be customizable on FactoryCustom.com by mid-July.