After the final buzzer sounds on the season, it’s tempting to head home, throw the equipment bag in the closet and simply deal with it the next time it’s needed in a few weeks, or a few months.
While most players and parents realize that equipment needs to be aired out and dried between games and practices, it can easily be over looked at this time of year without any hockey on the immediate calendar.
In reality, the end of the season might be the most critical time to not only dry out equipment, but also have it thoroughly washed. It’s no secret that equipment stinks, and there are many products available to help rid your bag of odor, moisture and other problems. But what lurks beneath the stink is what can cause hockey players bigger problems.
“It’s very important to not let equipment sit in your hockey bag until the next season without airing it out and washing it,” says Mark Vaughan who runs an ice arena that purchased a washing machine built specifically for athletic equipment.
“We installed our machine to address the stink of equipment, and also the bacteria and harmful things that you can find on hockey equipment. If not treated properly, these ‘living creatures’ can cause staph infections and other problems.”
Conventional washing machines use one of many different agitating devices such as the paddle in a top loading machine, or the drop action in a front loader. Machines designed specifically to wash equipment however are much more effective.
“It’s very important to not let equipment sit in your hockey bag until the next season without airing it out and washing it.”
For example, patented technology from the manufacturer Esporta is designed to securely hold items in place while the machine hydraulically forces proprietary chemicals through the thick padding, foams, leathers and other hard to clean items. Independent tests have shown that this system kills up to 99 percent of harmful contaminants and bacteria in soft surface goods.
“I would recommend that players wash their equipment three times a year,” says Vaughan. “If you experience rashes or other irritations then your equipment should be washed once a month.
“You can dry your gear all you want,” continues Vaughan, “but think of your clothes; if your jeans get wet, you hang them up to dry, but you will still wash them. The same should be done for the equipment.”
The success of washing gear on a regular schedule is evident in the consistent business Vaughan has seen since he purchased his washing machine. His also notices a difference in his staff.
“My staff plugs their noses and wears gloves putting the gear in the washer,” chuckles Vaughan. “But they don’t wear gloves taking it out.”
VOLUNTEER OF THE MONTH
In 1981, Jack McCatherin went to the rink with his son, and decided to bring his skates. Twenty-seven years later he looks back on many great memories as a USA Hockey director, Massachusetts Hockey president, Initiation Program administrator, Coaching Program instructor and his favorite, as a coach. His motivation and drive to continue is fueled by the people “that I get to have fun with,” says McCatherin. “My best friends are hockey people.” Today McCatherin lives in Mesilla, New Mexico with his wife. “I try not to go anywhere for a bad time,” he says.