WALPOLE – Before the competition can even heat up on the football field, athletic directors all over are working together – scrambling to suit up their players. The desperate phone calls keep coming in Walpole.
“Now it’s just a straight out, ‘I don’t have anything to give,'” athletic director Ron Dowd explained.
The latest victim of pandemic supply chain problems is town sports. High school and youth teams need helmets. Walpole High ordered theirs back in April.
“Our reps we’re buying the helmets from, they’re probably getting a text or an email a day from all these coaches. I just sent one an hour ago, ‘any updates?’ There’s nothing yet,” said Walpole High football coach Chris Sullivan.
There are about 110 players in Walpole’s football program. Everyone has a safe helmet to wear, but they don’t all fit right. Plus, teams could change when school starts.
“I think we have one extra helmet right now and freshmen start tomorrow. We’re potentially going to get 3-4 more kids,” Dowd added.
The saving grace in Walpole is players who own their own helmets, which can cost hundreds of dollars; And even replacement parts on those are hard to come by. Until those shipments show up, some towns will have athletes working out on the sidelines.
“Whatever we can do to get by at this point, schools and programs are doing that,” Sullivan said.
Equipment maker Riddell said its orders for helmets and shoulder pads will be fulfilled by the end of next month.