For my money, the best way to coach a young goalie is to stand behind the net and see what he’s seeing. That’s what I did working with the 7‐8 goalies of the North Seattle Lacrosse Club. As a result, I got pelted a couple of times. No big deal, but it occurred to me that, eventually, one of the young attackmen would get around to beaning me with an errant shot, with unknown results. I went shopping for a helmet.
Frankly, I hadn’t the slightest idea how to shop for a modern lacrosse helmet, since the last helmet I’d pulled off my head was in 1972. It was a Brine. I think that’s the only lacrosse helmet there was at the time. The helmet worked well enough, even for playing goal, as I did.
In the end, I chose Warrior’s Venom helmet. Since my needs for protection were only moderate, price was the great driver of my choice. I would have chosen a Brine at $109, a Triad ST2, for its great price and for old time’s sake. Sadly, Triad is “one size fits most”, and I wasn’t “most”. This meant taking my fat head up a bit in price, where I found the Venom sale‐priced online for about $120. For some reason, my searches did not turn up the Cascade CLH2, also in this range. Since Cascade seems to be the gold standard for lacrosse helmets, I would have considered it.
Just in terms of looks, the Cascade helmet reminds me a bit of the Brines of years ago. It looks comforting and old school. But if you’re living life on the edge, the Triad, and especially to the Venom, have a rich sculptural, almost Boccioni, feel (get out your Google). How would I characterize the difference in look? Indulge me by allowing a Halo reference: the Triad has a Master Chief vibe while the Venom is more Arbiter. Or again, if the Triad is Star Wars, the Venom is Alien.
The actuality of the Venom when it arrived in Seattle did not disappoint. Not only did it look beautiful, its solidity and sculptural qualities were so pronounced that I found myself turning it around in my hands over and over. My new helmet is way better than the old Brine I wore in goal. The old Brine was made of semi‐rigid plastic sheets, with exactly the softness of the Warrior’s chin piece; you could easily flex the
whole helmet in your hands. By comparison, the skull casing of the Venom (and I’ll bet all the others) is made with rigid plastic. The old Brine held to the head using a suspended canvas webbing system and fit pretty much like a baseball cap. The Venom holds the head in an advanced foam lining, plus it features easy‐to‐use inflatable pads for extra protection and a more exact fit. (My head is big enough that
there was not a lot of inflation possible.) It looks as though a bicycle pump would work as well as the little bulb pump that comes with it, if one were to lose the latter. The facemask of the Venom is way stronger than the old Brine’s. No way would a shot get jammed in the Venom’s mask the way it did in my Brine’s. (You can check out that story in my column at Emerald Lacrosse, “The Gut Wall”.)
Can I compare it to other modern lacrosse helmets for utility? Not at this point, though be patient, more to come. But, hey, I can compare it to the other helmet I own, a Nolan N‐102 (pictured)! I’ve got to say that the padding in the Nolan is way, way better. The Venom is only rated to keep me from getting hurt when something going 70 mph hits my head, while the Nolan is rated to keep me from getting hurt when my head is going 70 mph and hits something. Yes, the Nolan weighs maybe 3 times as much, but it has a flip‐up chin bar and faceplate and a flip‐down sun‐shield. It also comes ready for communications gear. (Future features, Warrior?) On the other hand, the Nolan costs a major 320 bucks, plus I have a lot more confidence in the facemask of the Venom standing up to a lacrosse shot. On the other other hand, I don’t think I can legally ride my BMW wearing my Warrior helmet, nice as it is.
Frozen in a freak accident called life, Mark Bocek was only recently thawed. Upon his resuscitation, he discovered that the game of lacrosse had changed in a multitude of ways. Back when men were men and sticks were wood, Bocek was a four-year starter in goal for Bishop Dagwell Hall, now Oregon Episcopal School, in Portland Oregon. Mark came around enough to help coach the 7-8s for North Seattle Lacrosse and to initiate a column called “The Gut Wall” for Emerald Lax. In the big picture, Bocek is a partner at Dreamhand Design Studios, a firm specializing in Web and print design and implementation. While frozen, he served for many years on the faculty of the Art Institute of Seattle, earned a bachelor’s degree from Reed College and an M.A. from the University of California at Berkeley.