This past Thursday, August 17th, the Taylor Haugen Foundation held an outfitting event at Niceville High School where they provided compression shirts with Evoshield rib protection shields to all 168 student athletes on the school’s varsity, junior varsity and freshman football teams.
August 30th will mark the 15-year anniversary of the tragic accident that took the life of Taylor Haugen. The Niceville High School student passed away after sustaining a powerful hit during a game that ruptured his liver.
- Following their son’s death, Kathy and Brian Haugen started the foundation that bears Taylor’s name in order to promote awareness of abdominal injuries in youth sports. Their goal is to protect student athletes and ensure no other parent endures the loss of a child as they did.
The foundation’s Youth Equipment for Sports Safety (YESS) program provides protective rib shirts made with exclusive Gel-To-Shell technology that custom molds to each player’s body. Ashley Sallee, Director of Programs & Community Development for the Taylor Haugen Foundation, explained the unique benefit of this custom approach, stating “None of the players can share the shirt or the shields with each other because it’s custom to their body.”
Since its inception, the foundation has outfitted approximately 7,000 players across 18 states. However, supporting local schools remains a priority. “I definitely think it’s an experience as far as being able to outfit a team here locally, getting to be part of the presentation and then to hear from like Brian and Kathy themselves,” said Sallee.
While the foundation covers 50% of the $80 cost per shirt, schools have to finance the remaining amount. With limited budgets, Sallee explained that identifying sponsorships is becoming increasingly necessary. “What we’re running into with schools is that they just don’t have a lot of money to be able to do that. We’re starting to try and figure out sponsorships but we have to know that a team is interested.”
Most recently, sponsors fully funded gear for the Ruckel Middle School football team. After hearing that the school was interested in getting this equipment for their athletes, Ferrin Campbell Construction and Kimberly Birr Griggs with The Property Group 850 stepped up to make it happen.
- When asked about sponsoring additional local teams, Sallee responded, “The key is for the schools to really reach out to us, and just let us know they are really interested.”
Sallee also emphasized the strategy of “backfilling” teams in future years. Once a team is initially outfitted, schools only need to purchase replacement shirts each season for incoming players rather than the entire roster again. This makes the process more affordable on an annual basis.
The Taylor Haugen Foundation remains committed to protecting as many young athletes as possible by outfitting them with proper safety gear. However, community support through sponsorships is vital for enabling more schools to take advantage of the foundation’s live-saving programs.
If you or your company are interested in sponsoring a local school football team to receive this potentially life-saving protective gear, please reach out to the Taylor Haugen Foundation. Your support can make a difference in protecting young athletes in our community.