After 10 years playing for the Calgary Stampeders in the Canadian Football League, Jeff Pilon knows about contact sports. So, when he witnessed some of the hits being taken by his son and his teammates on the community lacrosse team, he felt he had to do something.
Kids playing lacrosse are at risk of neck injury because most have not developed the coordination to cross check safely. Jeff decided to make a neck guard that would protect young players and allow them to participate more safely in this fast-growing contact sport.
Armed with a home-made model, Jeff approached Red Deer College’s Centre for Innovation in Manufacturing to identify problems and create design solutions for his neck guard. A couple of designs later, Jeff had a working proof-of-concept prototype, named Shell Shock, ready for field testing.
“Lacrosse is Canada’s summer sport,” Jeff says. “I want kids to be able to play it, be physically active, and their parents not worry about serious injury. Shell Shock will really help to build the sport.”
Since designing Shell Shock, Jeff has opened his own company, Jukebox and partnered with Philippe Jeanneau, an experienced sports equipment designer, to develop a full line of equipment for lacrosse, including gloves and shafts. Every contact sport has potential areas of risk for injury and players’ needs are very specific — hockey gloves will not work in lacrosse, for example. Jeff wants to provide sport-specific protection so lacrosse can continue to grow.