Varsity Football Player Innovates for Safety

Grant Purdy ’21 Develops Shatterproof Helmet Shield

“I wanted to get back to playing football as soon as possible.”

It was his passion and love for the sport that drove Grant Purdy ’21 to start brainstorming ways to get back on the field to compete. Student-athletes had already been wearing masks during practice, but he wanted to find a splash shield that would fit on the players’ helmets.

“There were some companies making these products, but we weren’t confident they would fit our helmets and if they would be durable,” said Purdy.

So, he got to work. He first approached Athletics Director Josh Smith and asked if there was an interest in him designing and producing the football helmet splash shield.

“He was obviously serious,” said Smith, “and in our conversation, I told him if he could make something usable, we would definitely look to equip the football program with it.”

With the go-ahead from the Athletics Director, Grant got in touch with Mr. Brian Purlee, Maker and Robotics Coordinator for the Upper School Science department. He asked Purlee to use the laser cutter to cut some type of flexible plastic, and after a bit of research, the two landed on a shatterproof polycarbonate.

Purdy created a design to fit the football helmets in Adobe Illustrator, used the laser cutter to produce the shield, and came up with two prototypes that he thought would work. They put the concept through a testing round to ensure it wouldn’t shatter or crack.

After standing up to the hammer, Purdy attached the splash shield to his helmet using two-sided Velcro and brought it to practice to show the coaches. Coach Smith was blown away. “We are talking about creating a new product from scratch,” said Smith. “In a week, Grant had produced a product that eclipsed anything that I have seen currently on the market.”

With Coach Smith’s endorsement, Purdy and Purlee ordered enough material and straps to fit all of the players’ helmets. “I was able to cut the shields, prepare the materials, and cut all the Velcro to the sizes we needed in one afternoon,” said Purdy.

Equipped with shatterproof polycarbonate splash shields, the football team competed safely this year—and coaches and players felt more confident that the precautions they took ensured a successful season that led all the way to a run for the State championship!