Kiwanis and local dentists protect Demons’ teeth | PostIndependent.com
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Kiwanis and local dentists protect Demons’ teeth

Willa Soncarty
Registrar, Frontier Historical Society and Museum

It seems that the sport of football has always been with mankind. The ancient Greeks played a game called “harpaston,” in which the object was to kick, throw or run a ball across a goal. In 12th Century England, a game of a similar nature was played and subsequently modified in the centuries to come.

In the United States during the 1800s, the game underwent great changes. The sport of football continued to evolve, becoming a mixture of the vigorous sports of soccer and rugby.

Of course, along with football’s evolution came strides in the need for protective gear. Fearful of repeated concussions, a man set to play in an 1893 Army-Navy football game requested an Annapolis, Md., shoemaker to construct for him a protective leather helmet. That Army-Navy game is said to be the first time a player wore a helmet while playing in a football game.



As the 20th Century progressed, protective padding and helmets became standard equipment as the game of football became a mainstream sport. The football team of Garfield County High School in Glenwood Springs mirrored those changes. From the light padding and thin helmets of the 1920s, to more substantial head and body protection that began in the 1930s, football was gradually becoming a safer sport.

However, one neglected area was mouth protection. In September 1958, the Glenwood Post reported that many mouth injuries had occurred to Garfield County High School boys playing high school football. The Glenwood Springs Kiwanis Club sought to reverse the trend.



A group of local dentists partnered with the Kiwanis Club to make athletic mouth guards for members of the Garfield County High School football team. The soft but durable latex rubber guards were designed to “protect the players’ lips and teeth from injuries not served by the already helpful helmet guard.” The dentists supplied the labor and expertise and the Kiwanis Club supplied the materials. By the autumn of 1958, many members of the Demon team received these custom mouth guards.

Football safety had been elevated to a new level, thanks to the care and concern of local dentists and the Kiwanis Club.

“Frontier Diary” is provided to the Post Independent by the Frontier Historical Society and Museum, 1001 Colorado Ave., Glenwood Springs. Summer hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.


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