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A college football player invented a balaclava to reduce concussions

Carter Hogg aims to create safer sports for families just like his.

When Johns Hopkins sophomore defensive back Carter Hogg was in pre-K, his dad Jason used to take him to work. With his Bob the Builder umbrella in tow, he would sit and watch, taking notes as his father worked on new technology for a credit card company.

Now as a student-athlete, Hogg is using the entrepreneur and inventor mindset that’s been passed down from his family to create the G8RSkin, a protective device that could reduce the concussion risk in contact sports, all with family on the mind. “Having grown up around my dad and all the different ideas and concepts he came up with, it kind of inspired me,” Hogg said in an interview over Zoom. “I’ve been blessed to have that inventive aspect imbued in my by my dad from a young age.”

On the surface, the G8RSkin is a basic balaclava that one would wear when it gets a little chilly outside. However, according to testing that took place at Virginia Tech, the five millimeter thick mask alleges to reduce the risk of concussions by almost 60 percent. The design of the G8RSkin was done with athletes in mind, as a part of collaboration between Hogg and COO/founder of Alatus Clothing Company Alana Matthews, who also played high-contact college sports. “The design is data driven so we intend to reduce concussions, but we’ve also really focused on the player,” Matthews said. “The width and the comfort of the G8RSkin being thin enough to go under a helmet is designed with the player in mind.”

Carter Hogg with his father.

Hogg says that the design of the G8RSkin is intended to dissipate the energy from the collision throughout the upper body area. However, because the G8RSkin protects the neck as well, it’s stabilizing the area while reducing the impact of side and back collisions with the head area. According to the G8RSkin team, a protective system like this doesn’t really exist in the world of sports, so the testing process at Virginia Tech was fairly arduous. “It dissipates the impact, but also kind of acts like a neck brace,” Hogg said. “We had to adapt the methodology Virginia Tech uses because it’s not designed for a head and shoulder combined system.”

The creation and design of the G8RSkin was athlete-led, with players being the top priority of the plan from the beginning. Hogg’s brother FJ was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the mask. FJ was also a football player, who saw his athletic career cut short by a major head injury. The group sees the G8RSkin as a product that can help increase the safety of the sport of football, while also curbing the decline of youth sports participation. “We’re driving to do the most good that we can to keep kids playing,” Matthews said. “We can have a very large impact on that level in great numbers.”

“Football culture is so important,” the elder Hogg added. “We want to reduce or eliminate the negative perception around football so more kids will play.”

With eyes towards improving the future of contact sports, Hogg and the G8RSkin brand are hoping to begin releasing the mask soon at every level of the sport, aiming to close deals with players and schools soon. Yet, no matter how high or far they go, the family aspect will continue to be emphasized. From the inventor bloodline of the G8RSkin’s creator, to the people they want to impact the most.