Local lawmaker to propose legislation mandating neck guards for youth hockey players
A state lawmaker says she's ready to take action following last week's tragic accident that took the life of a high school hockey player.
Teddy Balkind, a sophomore at St. Luke's School, died after being cut by a skate during an ice hockey game.
State lawmakers are now looking to make neck guards mandatory to prevent any future accidents.
"They're made of teflon material," she said. "It protects their neck and that's the goal."
As an athletic trainer by trade, state Rep. Nicole Klarides-Ditria plans to propose in the upcoming session to require all hockey players wear a neck guard or similar protective device during practice or games.
She says right now the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference requires the use of neck guards, but the rules don't apply to private schools or youth hockey programs.
"I was deeply saddened for all people that were involved, obviously for Teddy, his family, for his teammates, for the young gentleman that was part of the injury collision," said Klarides-Ditria. "Our job as legislatures is to do everything we can to help our constituents and they don't have to be my constituents personally, but this is something that's near and dear to my heart and protecting student athletes in whatever way I can, I think, is very important."
Balkind's friend started a Change.org petition to make neck guards mandatory in youth hockey.
"That sounds awesome. Sounds kind of like what I wanted," Balkind's friend Sam Brande said.
Brande's petition has so far garnered over 73,000 signatures and has reached people across the nation.
"I feel like it's more than the hockey community at this point, it's just people wanting to keep younger athletes safe," he said.
Brande is hoping mandatory neck guards during hockey is implemented throughout the country and is looking forward to the outcome in Connecticut.