Devon Perkins just wants to play lacrosse with his friends.
But equipment challenges are making that difficult.
At 5’4” and 200 pounds, Devon is big for a 12-year-old boy. Add on a fulsome amount of dreadlocked hair atop his head and his dad, Lee, is finding it tough to get him a helmet that fits.
For the last two years, Devon has been wearing a men’s XL helmet — as big as they get — and even that’s proving to be a bit of a tight squeeze, he said.
Same with the headgear Devon wears playing left guard with Coquitlam Minor Football.
With public health orders limiting most sporting activities to socially distanced practices and no body contact, the family has found a work-around for this season so Devon can keep playing with his PeeWee B teammates.
But he’s still growing and if he’s to keep playing when competitive games are again allowed, a solution needs to be found.
Lee Perkins said he’s contacted several equipment manufacturers like CCM and Bauer but even the biggest helmets they make aren’t big enough. Same with field lacrosse helmets by Warrior. He’s also solicited help from the Coquitlam Adanacs and Vancouver Warriors but to no avail.
Getting a helmet custom made is an option, Perkins said, but it’s expensive — around $600 is what he was quoted by one manufacturer.
But Garrett Ungaro, the president of the Coquitlam Minor Lacrosse Association, said any helmet and cage would require CSA certification before it can be sanctioned for use in any league in Canada, a process that can cost a manufacturer about $15,000 for each model to be approved.
“Referees are to enforce this rule and remove a player or the equipment from the floor if the player is found wearing non-approved equipment,” he said, adding Lacrosse Canada works closely with Hockey Canada to ensure they’re aligned on policies for equipment as most helmets used by lacrosse players are also good for hockey.
Perkins said some people have even suggested cutting Devon’s dreads might help, but “they are his culture.”
Devon said the helmet he’s currently wearing isn’t comfortable. “It’s tight on my head,” he said, adding it leaves marks on his forehead and sometimes gives him headaches.
But, Devon said, he perseveres because he loves being able to play lacrosse with his friends. “Playing is fun, but the people you hang out with is my favourite part.”
Ungaro said he doesn’t want to see any child prevented from playing lacrosse. “Our mandate is to grow lacrosse,” he said, adding Perkins may be able to plead his son’s case to Lacrosse Canada.
Lee Perkins said he doesn’t want his son to miss out because of something he has no control over. “It’s a problem you can fix.”