The Cabrillo High football program has found a game-changer to prepare for the upcoming season – new equipment courtesy of Gamebreaker.
The company that specializes in protective soft shell gear has made its way to Vandenberg Village – with the incoming Conquistador football players not only wearing the head gear, but also having the school's own logo on the skullcap.
Not many area football programs have the protective gear with their own helmet decal emblazoned on the side. In the past, Gamebreaker has helped outfit Californian powerhouses like Santa Ana Mater Dei and college football programs like Army West Point. The caps are specifically designed to help reduce the risk of concussions during football drills without shoulder pads and helmets on. According to its website, Gamebreaker’s mission is to “Reduce minor or major head injury where incidental or accidental contact occurs during both practice and games.”
Second-year CHS head coach A.J. Pateras said that he saw an opportunity to improve the safety of his players by outfitting them in the new, yellow caps.
“I think we’ve seen quite a few articles from the NFL, college, all the way to high school and the lawsuits (about player safety) – so us just trying to get ahead of that stuff has now put our kids in new equipment when we’re not in contact periods,” Pateras said. “And Gamebreaker reached out to us a few times and we contacted them back. They were able to give us a nice look that matched up with our uniform and gave us our decals on there.
“Not only does it look good but our kids feel good. They feel proud about what they’re wearing and they feel safe when they’re out there.”
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The headgear may have the appearance of a leather helmet, but is really one that features soft padding to protect a player's head from potential collisions. Along with high schools adding the equipment to its summer workout gear, 7-on-7 club teams have also worn Gamebreaker caps during tournaments. Other sports programs like lacrosse have turned to Gamebreaker to help with player safety.
With Cabrillo and Pateras, Gamebreaker arrived to Constellation Avenue via help from the Associated Student Body on campus.
“We put an invoice through our ASB and part of our general fundraising that we do every year is part of that budget we have,” Pateras said.
Cabrillo football players were in awe of the look and feel of the caps, Pateras said.
“Everything with these guys now is all swag: How does it look, is it clean and so forth. The 'look good, feel good' theme never changes and it will always stay the same,” Pateras said. “That’s kind of how the kids feel about it.”
From the moment he was hired on at CHS after spending time at his alma mater Ventura High, Pateras immediately sought out new upgrades for CHS football – from new gear, to new equipment all the way to practice field upgrades. Gamebreaker has helped give Pateras and his team renewed enthusiasm about the future of Conqs football. Yet, Pateras concludes that Gamebreaker won’t be the only new thing arriving to CHS soon.
“We’re always looking at new stuff,” Pateras said. “Last year, we added new pop-ups (for tackling drills), new shoots (for blocking techniques), new black shields, plus got a grant from USA Football for new knee pads and we’ve upgraded our uniforms and got new helmets (for this season). Every year we’re looking at how can we get new stuff to stay ahead of the safety issue and we look at what our athletes want. Next year, we’re looking at our weight room and looking at new sleds. Every year, we’re trying to look for one or two new big purchases.”