Monday, April 1, 2013

The Fine Art of Wearing a Hockey Helmet and Other Things That Annoy People.

I'm an old hand at bucking the status quo when it comes to safety gear and everything else in derby; after getting nailed in the shin twice at scrimmage, I decided to get some shin guards.  Of course, back in 2009, I took a lot of crap for wearing shin guards, but I have continued to wear them, and my shins remain unscarred.  When someone who made smart ass comments about my shin guards gets nailed in the shins by another skater, I smirk.  Sorry, I just do.  I know that people have differing opinions of what is acceptable in derby, but every victory, even a moral one is sweet.  So, when I brought up the idea of getting myself a hockey helmet, I wasn't surprised to hear the negative comments about my hockey helmet hankering.

 Last year, after watching several derby girls get strange head injuries and a couple of close calls myself, I decided to get a hockey helmet.  It's funny just how much push back I got from skaters about this decision. "You're going to look stupid." "You're going to look 'special'." "The helmet covers won't fit." "It's not safer than skater helmets." "It's going to be really hot." I heard it all, and I totally understand that part of the derby community never wants to embrace change; we were told how things worked in derby, and we look down our noses at new and different things, and yet still I felt strong enough in my decision to do the research, talk to the experts and plunk down my money.

First of all, I already look stupid when I skate, and I've come to grips with the fact that I'll never be a poster girl.  I'm six feet tall and gangly as crap; I have terrible posture and I often have a pissy look on my face because I'm trying to concentrate on the awesome game of derby.  I'm very lucky that my tongue isn't hanging out of mouth in every picture, and I hate how my uniform fits.  Wearing a hockey helmet isn't going to make me look that much worse, that's for sure!  Also, I kind of really like how my helmet looks now.  After I skated in my hockey helmet for the first time, I completely fell in love with it.  I've never had a helmet fit me better, and I felt like I had better field of vision.   After talking to people who have switched to a hockey helmet recently, they feel the same about having better vision.  Yes, due to the lack of the "sweat saver" lining, which does little to nothing to protect your head from any impact, I sweat more.  But let's face facts, I sweat a lot anyway; if I'm not sweating, then I'm not working hard.

I was a little worried about the helmet cover not fitting, but it worked just fine. I was also worried it might pop off, but it's fit fine whenever I wear it and I've never lost one.   Some of my hockey helmeted sisters haven't learned the fine art of panty placement on a hockey helmet yet, but they will, they will. Here's a quick guide for anyone struggling with controlling their panties, and you know that we all need more control over our panties.  

How to wear a jammer cover on your hockey helmet.
To be fair, hockey helmets may not prevent concussions; ongoing studies are showing that athletes in contact sports would have to wear a helmet made of 18 inches of hard foam all around the outside to prevent concussions.  Imagine how we would all look, skating with giant three foot wide helmets?  My reasons for wearing the hockey helmet are because the helmet does protect from initial contact better than skater helmets; they cover the lower back of the head better and have the harder foam lining which does increase your chances of avoiding a concussion.  Plus, they just fit better.  For one of our parades, I put on one of my older and "prettier" skate helmets, and I couldn't get over how badly it fit.  Why was I putting up with a crappy fitting unsafe helmet?  Because I didn't want to look stupid....which is stupid.

Finally, it's important to acknowledge that it's ok to try new things; people are going to poo poo your protective gear, your awesome new Derbyskinz, your skates, your helmet stickers, everything! You have to do what works for you.  Derby is sport that isn't for the weak minded, so it's ok to go out and try something different.  Then you can smirk when you see one of your critics get kicked in the shins.

Read more about brain trauma here.  If your league doesn't have a policy on dealing with brain trauma and head injuries, it's time to get one!


  1. I love my hockey helmet. It's comfortable, I can see well and yet I feel it provides more protection around my face. Since starting to wear one last year, I haven't had near as many incidental hits to the face from other players. Plus the two times I've hit the back of my head against the floor this season I've walked away unscathed. It's so worth the money and slightly funny appearance. Great post!

  2. I actually think gals look fly in hockey helmets - my old triple 8 made me look like a penis head.

  3. I'm short so I love that my hockey helmet has ear protectors. No more accidental shoulder to the ear!

    Personally, I hate the "it's not pretty" and "it looks stupid" comments. We're athletes, not models.

  4. If someone wants the wear a hockey helmet, that's totally fine with me. I get the feeling that at least 50% of canadian derby girls wear them but you rarely see them in Germany. Not much of a hockey culture, I guess.
    I do wear a regular skate helmet, but not the silly kind with soft foam lining. One with proper hard foam lining, certified for all kinds of impacts but the shape is still the classic skate helmet. It covers the back of my head quite well, would a hockey helmet go down much further? I wear one of these:

    1. It might. Mine goes lower, and also covers my temples better than that helmet. As long as it isn't one of those soft foam ones, then you're in good shape.