Uniform Frontby: Jim DouvilleAssistant Coach, Newman Catholic High School, Wausau (WI)
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Is your program updating your team’s jerseys? Here’s the lineup for 2010 – and several things to consider.
While coaches love Xs and Os, the heat of the battle, and developing players, one task most coaches generally don’t like is the process of finding and buying uniforms.
But uniforms have to be replaced – sometimes due to wear, sometimes due to necessity and sometimes due to directional changes in your program. Some new coaches change the team’s uniform design to signify the change in philosophy. Over time, we find a replacement system that works.
For example, when I was a student assistant for the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Coach John Miech instituted an innovative method to ensure quality jerseys were constantly brought in while keeping costs to a minimum. When a player joined the team, he was assigned a number and usually kept that uniform throughout his career. When the player was a senior, part of his farewell from the program was the gift of the home and road jerseys. Those jerseys were replaced with new ones, which allowed the program to continually bring in quality jerseys without incurring the cost of replacing an entire roster’s worth at one time.
When a coach decides stylistic changes should be made, the team must be outfitted as a whole. If you’re looking to do a mass uniform upgrade, I’d like to pass along a couple of tips.
First, get your players involved. At the very least, leak the news that you will be updating your gear. You’ll be amazed at the buzz you’ll generate from your athletes, and excited athletes are motivated athletes.
Second, if you don’t have the time to go sift through all the information and pricing options, find a dedicated team of professionals to help. Sales representatives for national brands can walk coaches through the process and find the best package at prices far less than retail. Similarly, local sports stores can also help.
Budgets are limited. Since uniforms take a beating week in and week out, you need to find the most durable, good-looking product at the most economical price. Let’s take a look at some of the newest jersey releases and how they stack up.
The Nike Cowboy Game Jersey is made of a combination of spandex, mesh and dazzle. The body of the Cowboy is a standard mesh; the shoulders offer a double layer of shiny dazzle.
What sets this uniform apart is the styling. Contrasting elasticized cuffs accent the partial contrast collar and piping that runs from the edge of the color to contrast spandex under the arm. The Cowboy also offers spandex insets that run from under the arm to the base of the jersey, creating a tapered fit.
“The Cowboy has been selling extremely well for us, and coaches on the typical three-year buying cycle say it’s built to last the entire duration,” says Scott Neale, Eastbay Team Sales manager and Stevens Point Area High School (Wisconsin) assistant football coach. “Some coaches believe they may have to pay a lot more for the high-end Nike jersey and think they have to avoid it, but after we generate a quote based on their team order, they see that the price difference really isn’t that significant.”
Russell Athletic’s XC jersey features innovations that are designed to elevate an athlete’s performance on the field. Compression fit material that’s difficult to grab, ventilator technology designed to accelerate body cooling, and Dri Power® technology to wick moisture away from the body make the XC one of the most advanced jerseys on the market and a favorite of teams from coast to coast.
Companies don’t succeed for over 100 years without a commitment customer service and this is certainly the case with Russell Athletic. Considering that Russell currently outfits over 30% of all high school football players in the country, maintaining that high level of service is critical. According to Russell Executive VP Gary Barfield, “We continue to put a large focus on the high school market by bringing performance-enhancing products to the field of play and focusing on the needs of our customers.”
Innovative products of the highest quality and top-flight customer service are critically important to coaches at all levels of the game. Russell understands that and makes sure that it happens, regardless of your level of play.
The Under Armour Stock Texas Tech Football Jersey is Under Armour’s introduction into the football uniform market. Instead of creating a double layer of dazzle encasing the jersey from the clavicle on up as in the Nike jerseys, Under Armour only utilizes the dazzle on the crowns of the shoulder pads. The rest is a continuation of mesh that has more perforations than the Nike counterparts and appears to offer more in breathability.
The Stock Jersey has spandex inserts that run from the upper shoulder (front and back) down the entire jersey. These flex areas, combined with the mesh body, create a comfortable fit that will allow your players’ diaphragms to feel unrestricted while providing a tight fit.
“Under Armour is making a big push in the uniform market,” says Scott Jordan, Eastbay Team sales manager. “The look and feel of its brand is tight-fitting and focused on the mesh look, whereas Nike concentrates on the moisture management look and feel.”
The Eastbay Football Game Jersey offers similar styling to the Nike Destroyer Jersey, but at a lower price point. With a solid V-neck jersey, elasticized cuffs and spandex inserts that run from the cuff to the base of the jersey, the Eastbay Game Jersey gives you what you pay for. Just based on feel and looks, the Eastbay jersey does not stack up to others in detailing and “wow” factor, but the Eastbay jersey seems only slightly less durable than higher-priced counterparts.
When personalized and decked out in full tackle twill and embroidery, the Eastbay Game Jersey is a viable option for a program that has limited funds but wants to go all out in personalization.
Uniforms Express is a San Diego-based team dealer that has been outfitting teams from head to toe since 1996. They manufacture their own custom uniforms and sell direct to the end user. By eliminating the middleman they’re able to offer great service, affordability and guaranteed on time delivery. “All our football uniforms are made from the highest quality fabrics and fully customized based on your teams needs,” according to Director of Sales and Marketing John Kelly. Customers can choose from pro mesh or tricot mesh when designing the body of their jerseys. The sides of the jersey are made of spandex, and the shoulders are made with heavyweight dazzle material or spandex.
“Our uniforms are built to last regardless of how long or hard you play in them, and come with a garment lifetime warranty for seams and zippers” said Kelly. “Uniforms Express is proud to go above and beyond industry standards and customize our football uniforms with tackle twill lettering and numbering (screen also available). We want all our teams wearing uniforms that are comparable to NFL quality.”
When it comes to shopping for uniforms, budget and style make your options relatively clear. Create a winning look on the field not only with your play, but also with your uniform.
Jim Douville, a copywriter for Eastbay/Footlocker.com, has been an assistant football coach at Newman Catholic High School in Wausau, Wisconsin, for five years. He was also an assistant coach at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point for one year.