GRAND HAVEN — The Grand Haven football team is turning back the clock and returning to their traditional look. The program recently received a generous donation that allowed the program to buy new helmets. With this new opportunity, head coach Joe Nelson took advantage of the chance to go back to the Bucs’ traditional gold helmets.
“I was an alumni player here and I played with a gold helmet,” Nelson said. “I always hear a lot of alumni wanting the gold back. We went blue back around 2009 or 2010, and of course, a lot of people were excited and a lot of people were missing the gold.
“With this generous donation we got, and we were actually able to afford a full set of helmets for our high school program, it was time to go gold again. As far as I can pull up data, I would say all but about 15 years it’s been gold.”
This tradition is not lost on the players either. Senior running back Owen Krizan talked about his history with the gold helmet and what the change means to him.
“He (Nelson) came to me and gave me three options. Blue again, white or gold and the first thing I said was gold. I said ‘let’s go back to tradition’. My brothers came here and my first brother he had gold, second had blue. So I said I want to go back to gold, I like that idea, I like bringing back tradition.” Krizan said.
Nelson pointed out that the rest of the team reacted the same was Krizan did to the final product.
“We had a few mock-ups of different colors and different looks and they were pretty pumped. We had the rep come out and fit everyone and they were pretty excited. It has a little shine to it. It has a metallic fleck in it so when the sun hits it, it looks pretty sweet and when the lights hit it it will look good.
“They saw the decal for the first time and they like the way it looks. To me, it brings back the history of Grand Haven football but also with the modern buccaneer head it makes it look pretty sweet.” Nelson said.
The look and honoring tradition is one of the main aspects of the program’s upgrade. The part, most important about the new helmets is their safety. The program turned to the helmet company Vicis.
According to their website, Vicis has had the highest-rated helmet by the NFL and the NFLPA for the past three years. The Vicis ZERO1 is considered as one of the best on the market at absorbing contact and preventing concussions.
“That’s why we went to them. It’s a different technology. The outer shell is soft, so it has significant give to the gold part. On the inside, there is an absorber that will absorb for all directions and then there’s a hard shell under it and then the foam for the players head. It’s a completely different thought process and design.” Nelson said.
Krizan was thrown off by the helmets originally, but after wearing them for a few days of practice he recognizes the importance of them.
“I really like them. At first, they are a lot different because there’s no air in them. It’s all cushion, once you get used to them they are a lot more comfortable and with the facemask, you can see farther and wider which I like a lot running the ball.
“The top, you can put your thumbs on it and you can push in, at first I was like that doesn’t seem right but it absorbs more hits,” Krizan said. “We hit yesterday and usually I’ve got a headache by the end of the day, but I was feeling good.”
Nelson didn’t forget to mention how this all became possible in the first place. The donation comes from the local company Grand Haven Custom Molding.
“Karl Chapel is the president at Grand Haven Custom Molding. He was the initial donor of a significant amount. He was the guy that made us have the opportunity to get 100 of these things. It was very generous.” Nelson said.
The gold Buccaneers helmets will be back on the field for the season opener on Aug. 29 at home against Reeths-Puffer.