It's probably a safe bet that most of the jersey concept designers here at Icethetics play hockey at a level no higher than recreation.
But there's always an exception. You should really get to know the captain of the WHL's Swift Current Broncos, Taylor Vause.
Vause emailed me this week to talk about a couple of the specialty sweaters his team has worn recently and subsequently auctioned off to benefit charities. What's interesting about these sweaters? He designed them.
I'm sure more than a few Icethetics readers can claim they've worn jerseys they've designed for their beer league teams, but how many can say their work has raised nearly $15,000 for charity?
Vause, 20, wrote: "I have followed your site for a very long time [and] have always been a fan of jersey design. ... Over time, you've [written] posts about major junior hockey with regards to special event jerseys. For me, this is very interesting because I play at that level and I'm directly involved with those jerseys."
He's not kidding. Vause tells me he approached the Broncos last season about using a sweater he designed for Broncos Beat Breast Cancer Night on Feb. 4, 2011. As it turned out, the team liked his design — so they used it.
"I scored in that game while wearing the jersey I designed," Vause said. "Quite an awesome experience for me." Unfortunately, it was the Broncos' only goal as they fell 6-1 to the Medicine Hat Tigers.
Between the jersey auction and the in-game sale of pink carnations, the Broncos raised $6,400 for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. For the record, Vause's jersey sold for $755. That number was second only to the $1,000 one dedicated fan spent on Justin Dowling's jersey.
The story doesn't end there. "I was preparing for my fourth and final season of major junior hockey," Vause said of this year, "and I had already talked to my team's front office about doing another jersey for this season.
"I'm not sure if you know much about the Broncos history," said Vause. "There was a terrible bus accident 25 years ago and four [Broncos] players died. Since then we've always worn a four-leaf clover with the four players' numbers on it. Seeing as it was the 25th anniversary of the crash I thought it would be a great honour to do a Four Broncos memorial jersey."
Once again, the Broncos used his jersey design. And again, "I scored in this game," said Vause. "Another amazing feeling to score in the jersey that I designed." And to complete the trifecta of history repeating itself a year later, Vause's goal was only one the Broncos scored in the Feb. 11 game, falling 4-1 to the Regina Pats.
Regardless, Vause is quick to point out that it was still a special night. "I was very proud of this jersey because of what it meant to the community," he said. "We did another jersey auction and this time around we raised $8,153.67 for our Education Fund."
"I'm hoping to continue designing jerseys for the Broncos and branch out to other teams in the league as well," Vause said. "Whether that happens or not remains to be seen but jersey design will continue to be a passion of mine either way."
Taylor's story is pretty cool and I appreciate him sharing it with us. He's on Twitter at @wizardofvause if you want to give him a follow. And if you want to check out some of his quirky Photoshop creations, here's a link.