Skates in Two Worlds: The Story Behind Player-Designer Taylor Vause

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Taylor Vause of Alberta, Canada, is a designer who has created jerseys for hockey teams at professional and major junior levels in two countries. His portfolio includes specialty jerseys to promote charities or commemorate events, as well as several permanent designs.

Vause is not a full-time designer, but his day job gives him a unique perspective on the jerseys he creates.

“I believe that being an active player gives me the best insider’s edge when it comes to jersey design,” he said. “I think that in my position, I know what a fan of the game wants to see, as well as what a player wants to wear. I always strive for a player to pull a jersey over their head and be proud of what they are wearing.”

Vause just wrapped up the 2015-2016 season with 14 goals and 23 assists in 44 games for the Bolzano Foxes, an Italian team that plays in the Austrian Hockey League. Since 2007, he’s played for the Swift Current Broncos (WHL), Texas Stars (AHL), Idaho Steelheads (ECHL), Colorado Eagles (ECHL), and Adirondack Flames (AHL).

Courtesy Swift Current Broncos
Courtesy Swift Current Broncos

Given his unique position, Vause can make a claim that most designers can only dream of.

“The three teams who have worn my uniforms are all teams I have played for,” he said. “I was fortunate to have worn two of my jersey designs while with the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League. I actually scored my team’s only goal in each of those games, so that was always special to me.”

If things had worked out differently, Vause would have also had the opportunity to wear jerseys that he created for several other teams that have worn his work. “I narrowly missed wearing both of my pro jersey designs with the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League and the Colorado Eagles of the ECHL,” he said.

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One project close to Vause’s heart is a hockey jersey that’s not branded for a specific team, but is sold online to promote awareness of and help fight type 1 diabetes.

“I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in January 2009,” Vause said. “Since then I have done various volunteer activities to fundraise for diabetes research, but this jersey was the first time I was able to utilize my design skills to support the cause.”

Vause works with Matt Roach of Hockey Fights Type 1 Diabetes (on Twitter at @HockeyFightsT1D) to raise diabetes awareness and funds with this jersey design through online orders and fundraising auctions. (All proceeds benefit JDRF, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.)

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Broncos-TeddyBearTossMaking efforts on behalf of others is par for the course for Vause. He received the 2011–12 Doug Wickenheiser Memorial Trophy as the WHL humanitarian of the year, and several of his jersey designs have gone to charitable causes.

In 2011, game-worn jerseys designed by Vause were auctioned by the Swift Current Broncos to benefit the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. The Colorado Eagles wore “Pot of Gold” uniforms in 2013 to raise funds for an eight-year-old boy with leukemia. And in 2014, the Broncos wore Christmas-themed jerseys on Teddy Bear Toss Night to collect toys and other donations to benefit local hospitals and underprivileged children.

When it comes to designing these specialty jerseys, Vause makes sure his creations will be well received by players.

“My thought process when designing a jersey, especially a themed or special event jersey, has always been the same,” he said. “Just because the theme of the jersey is unusual or unorthodox, does not mean the jersey design has to be as well. My goal is to successfully represent the theme of the jersey, while maintaining an authentic look and feel of a true hockey jersey.”

Cripplers

MallardsVause’s higher-profile projects have been specialty jerseys, but two of his creations for lower-level teams have had a longer lasting impact. The men’s league Gypsy Cripplers of Red Deer, Alberta, and the minor Pond Hockey Club Mallards of Austin, Texas, have adopted Vause’s jerseys as their primary look.

Regardless of the level, Vause is thrilled to combine his love for hockey with his love for design.

“I started designing jerseys around the age of 12 years old,” he said. “The tools have since changed from colouring pencils and scissors to a sketch book and Adobe Illustrator. The end result is quite a bit different too. In the early years, I would tape my little paper jerseys to my bedroom door, and now my jerseys are being worn by actual major junior and pro teams.”

Vause has more design projects in the works, but can’t comment on them just yet. In the meantime, you can see his full portfolio online. We’re not sure where he’ll be playing next season, but wherever he lands, he’ll have skates in the two worlds that matter most to hockey fans—on the ice itself and designing the jerseys on the players’ backs.