Famous Graduate Makes Donation To Alma Mater


ROWLAND — South Robeson High School is getting some new football helmets thanks to one of its graduates, according to the Robesonian newspaper.

Brad Crawford reported that the Mustangs’ new Schutt Ion 4D helmets are a contribution from former South Robeson star Vonta Leach, who has a weight room at the school named in his honor. The helmets are expected to arrive on campus before the Three Rivers Conference opener on Sept 30.

The Ion 4D has a revolutionary, sleek design that features the first faceguard-to-shell integration for a football helmet. The result is a stronger faceguard with advanced, more durable cushioning.

“I wasn’t going to ask Vonta for new helmets because I don’t like doing stuff like that,” head coach Garron Warwick said. “But most of the stuff our kids were using was from the 1995-96 (season). After 10 years, helmets go bad. We’re very grateful Vonta’s doing this for us.”

Leach, a Rowland native, also donated 30 sets of Douglas shoulder pads valued at $190 each this summer and added to South Robeson’s equipment overhaul with 30 state-of-the art Schutt helmets a few weeks ago. Leach is entering his eighth NFL season, his first with Baltimore.

Warwick said 21 of South Robeson’s 78 total helmets were rejected during reconditioning before the season. For safety reasons, new helmets were a necessity.

Leach ordered the new helmets the second week of August, but South Robeson’s primary color of royal blue was unavailable at Schutt. Warwick sent one of his 13 Riddell Revolution helmets — acquired this summer with a USA Football equipment grant — to Schutt to match the colors. The Ion 4D helmets are in the final stages of production and will be shipped soon.

The Ion 4D and Riddell Revolution are among the safest helmets suitable for amateur or professional play according to a recent survey by researchers at Virginia Tech University.