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The 40-Year-Old (Goalie) Virgin, Part 4: Hockey Isn’t For Every Body

The 40-Year-Old (Goalie) Virgin, Part 4: Hockey Isn’t For Every Body

The adventures of our unlikely rookie continue! You can read Part One here, Part Two here, and Part Three here.

Let me tell you about this fantasy I have.

Some years from now, when I’m less of a sieve on the ice and a PHATS legend (and stoned Pavel Barber exactly once, because why not?), some nice kid doing a report will happen by.

“What was the hardest part of being a new goalie when you were so old?” the kid will ask. “Was it the butterfly? Skating? Your credit card statements?”

I will have to pause to reevaluate that last one, because it’s definitely a contender.

“Nope,” I will sigh, rolling my eyes. ”It was effing getting dressed.”

Grab a couple gallons of water, folks, because this post is about to get Dead Sea salty.

For me, clothes shopping sucks. I mean really sucks. I hate it every bit as much as it hates me, so we’ve agreed to avoid each other as much as we can. Turns out that shopping for hockey gear is largely the same experience, save the bonus event that kicks it off with Groundhog Day-like inevitability:

Me: Hi. I need to get [insert hockey item name here]

Shop Employee: Sure! How old’s your son?

Me: I don’t have kids. It’s for me.

Shop Employee, mind visibly flatlining: YOU? What?

Me, resisting the urge to tell him to say “what” one more time: Yeah. Me….

I probably don’t want to know what’s so universally shocking here. However, it would appear that 200 hockey men aren’t the only ones thrown by it: I’m an enigma to the equipment companies, too.

The problem is a matter of scale. Literally. Hockey may be for everyone, but hockey protective equipment is designed for boys. Not even men. Boys. Teenage boys. Tall, spindly, teenage boys with long feet, shoulders like wings, disproportionate limbs and imaginary body fat. I mean, on what other planet is a 34” waist an Extra Large? These little marvels of physics and human metabolism are my diametric opposites, and god, has this ever become obvious as I’ve tried to get outfitted for my latest Questionable Venture.

Yes, yes; I hear you up there in the bleachers:

They make gear for women!”

Just wear the men’s stuff!”

I’m glad you brought that up.

Now, pay attention, because we’re only going over this once.

In 2016, the average American (sorry, Canada: you hid your stats well) woman was 5’4” tall. She had a 46” bust, a 37.5” waist, a 48” hip, and was between 25% and 31% body fat. She wore a size 16-18 in Misses, or a 20 in Women’s (for further proof that women’s clothing sizes make zero sense, those are the same thing). Note that I said average, and let that sink in for a moment.

Because I’m obviously a masochist – and for the analytics crew – here’s where I stand.

Alright, let’s see what we’ve got on the rack here. Each company is a bit different, and yet….

Gee, the upper end of this XL waist is..a bit short.


Warmer, but still nope.


Guys…this chest….



The few companies that do make women’s gear are very proud of the fact that they consulted professional and Olympic women’s hockey players in designing their lines. While this is indeed cool, I would respectfully point out that the average elite female athlete is in her late teens to 20s and sitting around 15% body fat. Which does just so happen to be closer to the overall shape of the aforementioned teenage boy.

You get the idea

My only point here is that given that there are vastly more average-ish types out there on rink benches than there are elite builds, it would be awfully nice if the women’s gear actually included us. Especially since in beginner hockey, where stick control and precision stopping are arcane aspirations, protective equipment that fits is the difference between being a nuisance, and being unconscious on the ice.

“So just wear the men’s gear.”

Yeah, about that.

I guess it still needs pointing out, but men and women aren’t built the same way. Here we have some human anatomy fundies, courtesy of very talented illustrator and graphic artist, Joumana Medlej:

TL;DR: trapeze =/= hourglass

Those “consequences throughout the body” — which include the way the femur meets the pelvis and the knee — mean we don’t even get measured the same way men do. Things get…complicated.

Somehow, the bits on a woman that get the most attention are very ones men forget we have when conversation turns to clothes. And hockey gear.

So here we are. Eight months, two countries, and more awkward conversations than I care to relive later, I have a serious problem: I cannot find a pair of goalie pants that fit me. In the few cases where the pants should theoretically fit my waist, they were too narrow to make it past my hips. The one – ONE — pair I found that did clear my hips fit absolutely nowhere. They were as uncomfortable as they were impossible to move in. I’m officially Cindertendy now. Marvelous.

Adding to my frustration, the pants are one of the last two items standing between me and getting this show on the ice. I’ve got a long way to go before I can hold my own in net, and with every passing week, I’m falling further behind — and becoming increasingly less useful to — the rest of my team. I can all but hear the whistling from my stock freefalling there; if they thought I was weird before (they were right), this isn’t helping matters any.

THIS, dear Bryz, is why I hefta be mad.

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  1. JAmes smith

    COMMENTY you may want take a look at ” Brown Hockey ” They are a Canadian company that makes custom goalie equipment. ( Brown As for the pants, the website notes; ” Made for you unique measurements”

  2. tg

    Dear J,
    I always wore the biggest pants I could buy. They are not supposed to actually fit anywhere. When I stopped playing (long story), the pants I wore probably had a 50″ waist (cut/took out everything that held it together in front). I could put another person inside with me. I want as large a surface in front of me as possible (I wore Don Simmons pants – current ones are described as barrel shaped – that’s what you want). You commented about having trouble moving in the pants that fit your hips. Not sure what that means. Your pants will move where your legs are going. There can be an issue if the padding does not stay in place as you move but that is a different issue altogether. Everyone looks like the Michelin Man in pads. Protection is everything since we all have to go to work in the morning. I do hope you find something that works for you. No matter what, be sure you yell at your defensemen to stop screening you, cover all loose pucks and get a stick on that open skater. All goals are their fault. tom (20+ year beer league goaler)

  3. Jason Dearman

    go custom…Brown, McKenney, Battram, even Sara @ PAW could probably help you out.

  4. Tracy Barrett

    It just takes some practice and you have to mix and match gear from different companies. I agree as a female it can be difficult to find that perfect fit but after a few years you get the hang of it and immediately know when you try something on what will work for you and what won’t. Fox example, I have recently made the discovery that pants with an internal belt are great for me. They allow me to keep the pants seated exactly where I want. This is where having wider hips actually comes in handy. You can just situate the internal belt above your hips and tighten it allowing you to leave the outer straps loose so you can still move around. I also agree with some of the other comments about custom gear and sizing as well. There are several companies that can take your measurements and make the perfect sized gear just for you. Most of these companies charge less for custom gear than the pro gear you can buy off the rack anyways. Passau and Battram are both good places to start. I have personally dealt with Passau and they have great service. What really helped me the most was not trying to create a set from just 1 company. I am currently wearing gear from Warrior, Bauer, CCM, Vaughn, Passau, and PAW. Don’t be afraid to branch out.

  5. Kbb

    I’ve enjoyed reading your thoughts on becoming a goalie at age 40. I find myself in a similar predicament… having not played in goal in about 35 years; and now finding at age 60 that I’ve just got to get out there and see if I can still do it! The changes in equipment, and the style of play are enough to make one’s head spin. My former stubby little 30″ leg pads, while functionally adequate to play stand-up 35 years back, would in no way work in today’s world where it’s all about the butterfly… frankly, I don’t know if my knees are up to that feat anyway. 🙂 But, I gotta do it… even if it means playing beer league with intermediate pads and gloves.
    Heck, I’m not even keen on the current chain-link masks… but from what I understand, you can’t even step onto the ice in one of the old form fitted fiberglass setups we used to wear.
    But as was my catch-phrase as a much younger man, “I may be terrible; but at least I’m better than an open net!”
    Keep posting… I enjoy hearing about your journey