USA Hockey Magazine

November 2014

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A Line On Safety BY HARRY THOMPSON AS A HOCKEY PLAYER growing up in Swampscott, Mass., Tom Smith played with a certain ferocity befitting of his Junior hockey team's nickname, the Boston Bulldogs. And while two separate spinal injuries cut short his hockey career, the 24-year-old Smith is attacking his latest cause with the same determina- tion as he tracked down opposing puck carriers. Smith is the founder and driving force behind the Look-Up Line, a 40-inch bright orange line that circles the boards around the rink to serve as a visual reminder for players to keep their heads up as they approach the boards. The line, which is akin to a warning track on a baseball diamond or the black line painted at the bottom of a swimming pool, is only part of the push to make the game safer. Off-ice education, including a greater emphasis on the Head's Up, Don't Duck program, plays an integral part in the overall safety efforts. "The line doesn't work by itself. You need the education," Smith said. "What we're saying is that the Look-Up Line is the on-ice beacon of hope for having that off-ice education be translated onto the ice." A good deal of the early support of the Look-Up Line has come from Smith's home state where a number of prep school and collegiate rinks already have installed the line, and Massachusetts Hockey has pledged to reimburse the first 100 rinks around the state that install it to the tune of $500 per ice sheet. According to Smith, more than 225 rinks in 25 states have already incorporated the Look-Up Line. It's a good start, he said, but he is hoping that more rinks will come onboard in the near future. "This is not going to be a one-year process. It's not going to be a two-year process. What I'm looking to do is to formulate a cultural change," he said. Installation of the Look-Up Line is not required under USA Hockey rules. USA Hockey's board of direc- tors, at its annual summer meeting, did vote to support additional research to determine if the Look-Up Line can serve as yet another measure to make the game safer for its players. "There are still things that need to be done to implement it, but in my opinion, it's going to go faster than we thought," Smith said. "I think the simplicity of the idea is what makes it so great." Y LOOK-UP LINE ADDS VISUAL ELEMENT TO HEAD'S UP PROGRAM "WHAT I'M LOOKING TO DO IS TO FORMULATE A CULTURAL CHANGE." – TOM SMITH

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