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Protecting High School Football Players from Injury

EvoShield® and the Taylor Haugen Foundation team up with Oklahoma Sooners Stars to fit a high school team with EvoShield® protective rib shirts. 

NORMAN, Okla. – July 21, 2023 – The kickoff to the start of high school football season is a few short weeks away. Before these young athletes hit the gridiron under the Friday night lights, a family on the wrong end of a tragic injury is working to ensure no other kids suffer the same fatal fate as their son. 

Friday, the Taylor Haugen (How-gun) Foundation and EvoShield – with the help of Oklahoma Sooners players Dillon Gabriel and Jalil Farooq – fitted 136 junior varsity and varsity players from the Norman North High School football team with the EvoShield rib shirts. 

Gabriel has worn the protective EvoShield rib shirt since a severe injury when he played at UCF. Farooq keeps one ready to wear in the event of injury, helping him get back on the field faster. 

“I would never play a game without the rib shirt,” Gabriel said. “It’s just so functional that it’s molded to my body and every movement that I make. I never feel any hits to the ribs or have pain after games. It’s my go-to every game day.” 

Brian and Kathy Haugen created the Taylor Haugen Foundation and its YESS Program (Youth Equipment for Sports Safety) after their son Taylor, a hardworking wide receiver on the Niceville (Fla.) High School junior varsity football team, died at age 15 from an internal injury sustained during a scrimmage. He’d been hit by two opponents simultaneously while attempting to catch a pass. His liver ruptured which ultimately led to his death. Doctors said the force of the impact was equivalent to that of a high-speed car crash. 

07/21/2023 University of Oklahoma quarterback Dillon Gabriel and wide receiver Jalil Farooq partnering with EvoShield at Norman North High School in Norman, Okla.. Photo by Joshua R. Gateley

Since the creation of the THF in 2011, Brian and Kathy have been on a mission to help protect as many youth athletes as possible. THF is the only nonprofit in the United States focusing exclusively on protecting middle school and high school athletes from 

internal injuries. They have collaborated with EvoShield to raise awareness of the importance of safety equipment among young athletes. The two organizations also have been busy outfitting various school athletic teams nationwide with protective gear through the YESS Program. Since 2011, more than 7,000 players have been fitted with EvoShield’s protective rib shirts, one of the company’s signature protective products. This collaboration protects developing adolescents from internal injuries. 

“We are so excited to be able to work with EvoShield to help protect North High School’s football players. We’re grateful for the opportunity to ensure that more student athletes can safely play the sports they love,” said Kathy Haugen, Taylor’s mother and co-founder of the Taylor Haugen Foundation. “We’ve been doing this for 12 years, and the EvoShield rib shirt is still the best product we have found for abdominal protection of athletes.” 

According to the Center for Injury Research & Policy, football tops the list of the most dangerous high school sports, with more than three million injuries estimated nationwide annually. 

EvoShield has become the serious custom fit rib and organ protective gear of choice for professional, collegiate and high school teams across the U.S. as well as players looking for decidedly superior protective equipment and the higher performance and confidence boost it can bring to their game. 

“We are honored to once again have the opportunity to partner with the Taylor Haugen foundation to ensure the safety of these student athletes,” said Tom Bolle, EvoShield Marketing Manager. “There’s nothing more important than protecting these players from injury as much as possible.” 

“I’ve been in football all my life, as a player and coach, and have seen many injuries,” said Norman North head coach Justin Jones. “Our first priority, always, is to ensure the safety of these young athletes. We’re honored that Dillon Gabriel and Jalil Farooq decided to utilize their NIL partnership with EvoShield to team up with the Taylor Haugen Foundation and YESS to provide this additional protection to every one of our players. They are to be commended.” 

07/21/2023 University of Oklahoma quarterback Dillon Gabriel and wide receiver Jalil Farooq partnering with EvoShield at Norman North High School in Norman, Okla.. Photo by Joshua R. Gateley

About Taylor Haugen Foundation 

The Taylor Haugen Foundation is a nonprofit based in Niceville, Fla. Founded in 2008, the Taylor Haugen Foundation builds and recognizes youth leaders and promotes abdominal sports safety to honor the legacy of Taylor Haugen. It provides awareness, education and abdominal injury protection to secondary-aged schools and leagues in contact sports through its YESS© Program (Youth Equipment for Sports Safety). The Foundation also supports outstanding scholar athletes with scholarships and awards like the Taylor Haugen Trophy. Learn more about the Taylor Haugen Foundation by visiting TaylorHaugen.org. 

About EvoShield 

EvoShield is the pacesetter in innovative custom fit protection equipment for many of America’s most-popular sports, including football, baseball, fastpitch, soccer, lacrosse, hockey and shooting sports. Its revolutionary, body-conforming Gel-to-Shell® technology produces incredibly strong yet lightweight equipment that provides athletes maximum flexibility, allowing them the best-in-class protection they need without sacrificing performance. 

EvoShield is now the chosen protective gear of more than 350 professional and college sports teams worldwide, and its products deliver superior protection for sports competitors of all ages. The game-changing EvoShield protective apparel is sold nationally in various retail outlets. For more information, visit evoshield.com. 

About Wilson Sporting Goods 

Chicago-based Wilson Sporting Goods Co., a subsidiary of Amer Sports Corporation, is the world’s leading manufacturer of high-performance sports equipment, apparel and accessories. The company brings over a century of innovation, history and heritage across many sports, including racquet sports, baseball, softball, football, basketball, volleyball, soccer and golf. Leveraging player insights to develop products that push equipment and apparel innovation into new territories, Wilson empowers athletes at every level to perform at their best. Among other things, Wilson currently makes and sells high-performance gloves, bats, uniforms, apparel, protective gear, accessories, player development equipment and tools through its Wilson®, Louisville Slugger®, DeMarini®, EvoShield® and ATEC® brands. Visit wilson.com for more information. 

07/21/2023 University of Oklahoma quarterback Dillon Gabriel and wide receiver Jalil Farooq partnering with EvoShield at Norman North High School in Norman, Okla.. Photo by Joshua R. Gateley