About The YESS Program

On August 30, 2008, a fifteen-year-old football player from Niceville High School sustained what proved to be a fatal liver injury during the school’s ‘kick-off classic’ game. Taylor Haugen’s death was caused by massive internal bleeding, the result of a torn liver sustained from impact injuries. To honor his memory and his unique character, Taylor’s close friends, family and community leaders created the course toward an official “Taylor Haugen Foundation.” Over the last 7+ years, The Foundation has continued to recognize exceptional student athletes; leaders who emulate T’s very best qualities and his personal motto of “Don’t Quit-Never Give Up”.

In 2011, upon hearing of another young football player who suffered similar injuries, the Haugen’s felt compelled to expand the Foundation’s reach by delving into the area of youth sports safety. This led to the development of the YESS© Program. The primary mission of the Youth Equipment for Sports Safety Program (YESS©) is to reduce the number of sports-related abdominal injuries in middle and high school athletes.

The vision of the YESS© Program is to raise awareness and educate about this next generation of Abdominal Injury Protection equipment, how it is made available for their team, and to facilitate access to this cutting edge equipment.

Target Population

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), participation in organized sports is on the rise. The National Council of Youth Sports estimates that 44 million kids play at least one organized sports activity. According to an article published by the US News…

  • More than 50% of all high school students play a sport.
  • Sports injuries account for 4.3 million hospital emergency room visits annually in the United States
  • One out of every four sports related injuries is considered serious.
  • High school athletes account for 2,000,000 sports injuries, 50,000 doctor visits, and 30,000 hospitalizations annually.
  • In 2010, 50 children died from sports related injuries.

In spite of these statistics, only the most minimal set of protective gear is mandated by Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) for high school student athletes. For example, high school football requires only four pieces of equipment: a helmet, shoulder pads, a mouth guard, and padded pants.

Another startling fact is that sixty-two percent of organized sports-related injuries occur during practices rather than games . Despite this, one-third of parents often do not take the same safety precautions during their child’s practices as they would for games.

Our research indicates that no other organization provides abdominal sports safety equipment for student athletes.


Educate students, their parents and the community on the risks associated with abdominal sports injuries and prevention.

Most middle school and high school students and parents simply do not know the quality of equipment that is made available to Collegiate and Professional athletes today. This high-end equipment is cutting edge. It can better protect athletes from injuries, and yes, it tends to be more expensive than traditional protective gear. The goal of the YESS© program is to raise awareness and educate; about this next generation of abdominal protection equipment, how it is made available for their team, and to facilitate access to this cutting edge equipment.

Equip middle and high school students with the highest quality protective sports equipment commonly available only to college and professional athletes

We will equip middle and high school students who participate in contact sports with technologically advanced safety equipment. Currently, the Taylor Haugen Foundation is working with EvoShield, a company that was founded by three former University of Georgia “Bulldog” athletes. They were looking to move beyond traditional foam and plastic protective gear which proved to be big and bulky. They created protective gear that is truly comfortable and designed to make athletes faster and stronger . . . and better protected.

The EvoShield material was invented by a cardiologist, a father, who wanted more protection for his children who played baseball. The quarter-inch-thin, lightweight composite material custom forms to each student’s body as it hardens to provide a special layer of protection. This “Gel to Shell” shield absorbs the impact of the hit and spreads it through-out the protective material.

The Foundation will work with superintendents, school administrators, and coaches of both regionally and nationally to equip teams with the appropriate abdominal protective gear for their respective sports.

Promote the YESS© Program to all youth secondary athletes/parents/coaches

We started a grass root, focused effort to educate, equip, and promote the YESS© Program regionally and nationally. We are confident that this program is the catalyst toward a better, safe future for our youth athletes going forward.

We are aggressively exploring partnerships with like-minded organizations and pursuing opportunities with other sports safety equipment vendors in order to fulfill the mission and vision of the YESS© program and ensure that more student athletes have an opportunity to safely play the sports they love.