One-third of the Redcoat Band members had a chemical skin reaction to the new gloves they wore Saturday during the football game against Buffalo, said athletic band director Mike Robinson.
“Something from the gloves caused a skin reaction on a lot of the Redcoats at the first game, and so we don’t really know for sure what it was,” Robinson said. “It could be some chemical that’s in the glove that is part of the process.”
Robinson said he didn’t know the manufacturer of the cotton gloves, which were made in China.
The incident began when Redcoat members approached Robinson during the game saying their skin was breaking out from the gloves, he said.
Cathy Marszalik, the social chair of the Redcoat Band and a senior psychology and Japanese major from Roswell, said the gloves had Velcro attachments, which was causing the reactions.
“Students had a chemical reaction to the new material — the Velcro part — in conjunction with being in the sun for so long, and they received chemical burns,” Marszalik, who didn’t get a reaction, said. “It was so horrifying … I know people were crying, it hurt so bad.”
She said some students experienced a minor rash, others had itchy and burning rashes and a few of her friends had a fever after the game.
Robinson said a nurse had the Redcoat Band members take their gloves off, wash their hands and apply ointment.
“We had a phenomenal response group that helped each and every one of those members,” Marszalik said.
After the game ended, Robinson said he sent out an email asking who had experienced a reaction after they put the gloves on. Out of the 430 members in the Redcoat Band, about 330 of them wear gloves, he said.
During the next two days, Robinson said he received emails from about 140 Redcoat members who had had reactions, though no one he knew of had to visit a doctor.
“It was a significant number,” he said. “Some were more severe than others. Some had where their hands were red and still red yesterday or the day before. Other people said it’s just scratched and they were fine the next day.”
Robinson said he had spoken with directors of other marching bands and other people who deal in uniforms, but nobody has ever heard of an incident similar to this.
The Redcoat Band has collected all the gloves from the students, and Robinson said new gloves will arrive next week in time for the Sept. 15 home game against Florida Atlantic University.
He said the Redcoat members will not wear gloves during the game Saturday against University of Missouri.
“Honestly, we can do our shows without gloves,” Robinson said. “It’s just it looks better to have the black gloves which match the uniform.
Marszalik said the Redcoat members understand the glove incident was an accident.
“It was so horrifying,” she said. “It was still really sad to see freshmen, who it’s their first football game, and they have these horrible chemical reactions.”
But the members’ outlook has remained positive, she said.
“We’re not gonna let something like a stupid piece of material keep us down,” Marszalik said. “We’re handling the situation efficiently.”