Ode to Helmets

I went to put on my thinking cap before writing this blog and realized my thinking cap is a helmet.

Helmets are a big part of my life.  I spend so much time wearing a helmet that when I actually bother to  style my hair, I have it cut it in a way that will look best when I've removed a sweaty helmet from my head. Because chances are, if you can see my hair, I have very likely recently removed a sweaty helmet from my head.

Helmets are an essential piece of gear in roller derby. They keep our noggins safe while we do some pretty dangerous stuff, which makes them the most important thing we wear during practices and bouts. Yes, even more important than those shorts that make our butt look awesome. Brain injuries are serious and helmets have a very serious job to do in keeping those brains safe. This is very serious business.

But these amazing helmets do things above and beyond just keeping our brains safe. I am referring here to their magic ability to change us into our alter egos. No other piece of gear has the altering effect of the mighty helmet. Being new to The Chicago Outfit, I am still a little shaky on the exact appearance of all of my league-mates, but I'm pretty sure at this point I could pick them each out of a line-up if I had to.

Take off their knee pads, wrist guards, and elbow pads? Yeah, I could still pick em out no problem. Stick them in one of those neat blow up Sumo suits, thus covering up their tattoos/ lack of tattoos?  It would be tough but pretty sure I could still do it.

Take off their helmets? Omg, who are these people?!!

I'm not really sure what it is about the helmet that changes our appearance so much. Obviously, it covers some or all of our hair which is, for most of us, the part of ourselves we can each change and individualize the most. And thus it makes sense that the helmet would change us. But the degree to which it does so seems to defy logic.  Helmets routinely remove five, ten, or even fifteen years from a skaters age. Move over Oil of Olay. You haven't got anything on helmets. Or for those young, sweet, innocent looking skaters, helmets add a look of experience, grit, and fierceness. Once donned, they can transform your best friend into that person you fear on the track. Shy girls become silent, deadly machines. Loudmouths become great leaders who's guidance you rely on in the chaos of the pack.  When you're out there playing the game, it is not the skates or the cute shorts you are looking for but the helmet, eyes constantly searching for or glued to the one with the star.

Helmets take away some of the “pretty,” that trait that can often times be over-emphasized throughout the life of a female, and replaces it with a good amount of “bad-ass”.  Or maybe it just expands the the definition of pretty to more readily include bad-ass. I'm not an authority on this sort of thing. I just know that helmets change us and I like how they do it. I like that when I look across the rink at my league-mates at a practice I see a sea of tough looking, geared up athletes ready to work hard, skate hard, and do some damage. Just not brain damage, cause head injuries are serious business, folks.

-Puck