Bottom Right: Courtesy of Carlin Hudson ’18; Others: Daniela Brighenti
Click to see the front and back of the blue volleyball uniform, the front of the white volleyball uniform, the front and back of the volleyball libero uniform and the front of the women’s soccer blue uniform.
In January, Yale announced a historic deal with athletic apparel company Under Armour. Now three months later, all of the newly designed uniforms for Yale’s varsity teams are close to completion.
Uniforms for all of Yale’s fall sports have been designed and ordered, Yale Intercollegiate Equipment Operations Lead Assistant Jeff Torre said, and designs and orders for winter and spring sports are “about 75 percent done.”
The deal, which goes into effect July 1, 2016, marked the first ever all-sports deal for Yale, meaning Under Armour will be the exclusive provider of apparel, footwear, uniforms and equipment for all Yale athletes, coaches and staff.
“I think the overall emotion was definitely excitement, because Under Armour is relatively new on the women’s soccer scene and therefore everyone is excited to see what type of gear we will be getting next year,” women’s soccer midfielder Maggie Furlong ’18 said.
The Yale women’s soccer and volleyball teams are the only two teams who have seen their new uniforms so far, according to interviews with members of every fall sports team. Torre said the uniforms for all fall sports except football and field hockey have already arrived, and that once those two sets come in, the athletics department will hold an event to unveil the new designs.
The women’s soccer and volleyball uniforms, as shown in photos acquired by the News, feature gradient striped designs, which are different from the solid blue and white colors that Yale teams have typically donned. The blue soccer uniform, with solid white on the shoulders and solid blue around the midsection, is particularly distinctive.
It is unclear whether the stripes will be a theme across all uniforms; Torre told the News in January that although the designs would not significantly change, there would still be noticeable differences in the new attire. Volleyball assistant coach Kevin Laseau said because the volleyball team begins its season early, on Sept. 4, a design was picked out of pre-existing Under Armour ones, and that it is possible the design could change in upcoming years.
Prior to the Yale–Under Armour deal — which is reportedly valued at approximately $16.5 million over 10 years — individual teams were in charge of acquiring their own apparel and equipment, which came from a variety of brands. Under the new partnership, Under Armour will produce uniforms for all Yale teams in addition to any other items necessary for their sports, with very few possible exceptions.
The exception, according to the terms of the deal, is that if Under Armour does not produce a piece of equipment or footwear for a certain sport, teams may use another brand as long as it is not Adidas or Nike — the two direct competitors of Under Armour. Fencing uniforms, volleyball shoes and field hockey cleats fall under this category, among others.
“The slight problem with fencing as a sport is that the uniforms that we use in competition are only really manufactured by a few companies that specialize in producing them,” men’s fencing captain Reed Srere ’17 said. “As of now, there is no fencing-specific equipment manufactured by Under Armour. My thinking was that perhaps we could also get patches that display the Under Armour symbol, so that we could be representing them at least in spirit.”
The only team that will not be cladding Under Armour apparel in any form next year will be the Yale men’s basketball team, which has a contract with Nike through the end of the 2016–17 season.
Student-athletes will not be the only ones in brand new apparel next year. According to Laseau, the entire department will be given Under Armour items to wear. He said that particularly when recruiting new athletes, staff members and coaches have been instructed to wear only Under Armour products.
Torre, coaches and sports administrators have worked directly with the design team at Under Armour to decide what the new uniforms will look like, Torre said. He added that student-athletes do not participate in this process because Yale designs are “always traditional across the board.”
Laseau said the team’s reaction has been largely positive with regard to both the new uniform and the deal itself, which he said will give the department and Yale athletics a “more cohesive look.” Other teams that have not seen their uniforms are excited, both for a potential new look and an increase in team gear.
“We have not been able to see the new uniforms, however we do know that we will be seeing a huge increase in the amount of gear and apparel that we will be receiving,” Yale football defensive back Spencer Rymiszewski ’17 said. “We have tried some gear, cleats and gloves, and guys seem to like the new equipment. I think that the switch to Under Armour is exciting.”
Though most players were excited about the deal and their new gear, several student-athletes expressed hesitation with some of the Under Armour products that they will be required to wear.
For example, Furlong said some on the women’s soccer team have worried about the switch to Under Armour cleats, as many wear Nike cleats and have been doing so for their entire soccer careers.
“All [the athletics department] said was that they are ‘catering to our needs as a distance program,’ which I guess is in reference to the fact that Under Armour isn’t historically known for making running shoes or racing spikes,” James Randon ’17, a distance runner for the Yale men’s track and field team, said.
In other sports, however, Under Armour is thought to have a competitive advantage. Men’s golf player Jonathan Lai ’17, for example, noted that Under Armour produces “some of the best golf gear out there.” In fact, Under Armour sponsors golfer Jordan Spieth, who was the winner of last year’s Masters and U.S. Open Championship.
It has not yet been decided what will be done with the student-athletes’ old gear and apparel. Torre said the department is working on a plan, which will be announced once it is finalized. According to Laseau, a garage sale at the start of the fall semester is something the department has been seriously considering.