Mass. Hockey Rinks Add Orange Warning Track, Push Goes Nationwide

By Michael Rosenfield, WBZ-TV

ANDOVER (CBS) – Tom Smith was a high school hockey standout. And when a crash into the boards left him with a spinal cord injury he made it his goal to keep others from suffering the same fate.

“I had the greatest game ripped away from me,” said Smith, 24, of Swampscott.

The idea is quite simple but revolutionary for a traditional sport: a bright orange line painted along the perimeter of the rink.

It’s called a “look up line” and is meant to be a visual cue to players – a sort of warning track – to look up when crashing into the boards, a safer play than ducking down, that could prevent broken necks and paralysis.

“If you see orange, pick your head up,” said Smith.

Smith has faced-off against push-back in some circles. There is concern that the game may somehow be impacted.

“There is some resistance just because it’s new,” said Smith. “But we have not heard an educated response as to why we shouldn’t do this.”

The “look-up line” extends 40 inches from the base of the boards.

It’s been installed at two schools, Phillips Academy Andover and Pingree, and by October it should be in more than 100 rinks across 15 states.

“We like to be ahead of the curve,” said Ben Ruggles, director of rink operations at Phillips Academy Andover. “We like to be a leader in this sort of thing so we decided we’d go ahead and install it into our ice surface this year for the coming year.”

Smith, who runs The Thomas E. Smith Foundation to help those who are paralyzed, hopes the “look-up line” will find a home one day in NHL hockey rinks.

ONLINE: justcureparalysis.org

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