Now that fall sports teams have officially begun their seasons, Yale’s varsity athletics teams have debuted not only their new crop of freshman athletes, but also all their Under Armour apparel.
Thanks to a $16.5 million partnership with the sports apparel company, the Bulldogs now wear the same brand as tennis Olympic gold medalist Andy Murray, the National Football League’s most valuable player Cam Newton and the National Basketball Association’s MVP Stephen Curry. So far, fans seem to approve of the new uniforms, especially since Under Armour and Yale have attempted to strike a balance between the brand’s aesthetic and the school’s traditional colors and style. Although most uniforms have retained Yale athletics’ customary look with minimal changes, some women’s teams have added gradient stripes to their jerseys.
“We are excited to work with a world-class company on a very special partnership,” Athletics Director Tom Beckett said in a statement in January, when the partnership was announced. “[Under Armour] provides our student-athletes with the best sports apparel, footwear and equipment.”
Some winter teams, like the men’s squash team, have already received their Under Armour gear, which was met with a positive response. While they are enjoying the new uniforms and the perks of the new partnership, three members of the team said they are mostly focused on representing Yale and building on last season’s success.
“My teammates and I really like the new Under Armour gear,” said Max Martin ’18, a member of the men’s squash team. “I like the way it fits, but I think the most important thing is that it says Yale on it — the brand doesn’t matter too much to me.”
Martin expressed hopes that the new partnership would allow the team to keep certain traditions intact, like putting nicknames on players’ shirts for Ivy scrimmages in November.
The importance of Yale’s storied past did not go unnoticed, Yale Intercollegiate Equipment Operations Lead Assistant Jeffrey Torre pointed out in January, adding that uniform designs would not drastically vary due to Yale’s “ultratraditional” nature.
To that end, Under Armour gave certain teams more autonomy in picking their new uniforms. The Yale gymnastics team, lead by captain Tatiana Winkelman ’17, was actually given the opportunity to pick out the team’s leotards, jackets and other apparel with the help of an Under Armour employee.
“One of my first jobs as captain was to oversee the transition,” Winkelman said. “I was given the catalog [of all Under Armour apparel] and then had free rein to pick out what we wanted.”
When the deal was initially finalized, the team was told they would have to cycle out all of their old, non-Under Armour leotards, which can cost well over $100 each. However, Under Armour’s partnership with top-rated gymnastics brands like GK and the quantity of the gear received more than made up for the cost, members of the team said.
Like gymnastics, other sports have tried to embrace the transition. Although they expressed concern regarding Under Armour’s running shoes when the deal was announced, members of Yale’s track and field team said they were satisfied with the switch.
According to men’s captain Marc-André Alexandre ’17, he and his teammates like most of the gear, including the rain gear, tights, warm-up uniform and short- and long-sleeve shirts.
But as expected, there have been growing pains associated with the new partnership. Alexandre highlighted the need for gear that would provide a better range of motion and specifically with improved racing spikes.
“I think the practice shorts could be slightly shorter, which would allow better freedom of movement when running,” Alexandre said. “I see some room for improvement in the comfort and stability of their running shoes … I’m sure they will come up with better ones soon.”
In early January, the Yale Athletic Department announced a historic, $16.5 million, 10-year partnership with Under Armour. The deal marked the first point of contact between Under Armour — which already represented teams in the Pac-12, Big Ten and Atlantic Coast conferences — and the Ivy League.
Plenty of speculation arose after the announcement of the school’s first all-encompassing sponsorship deal. According to several athletes, the entire athletic community — including fans, recruits and staff in addition to the athletes themselves — were unsure how Yale’s new uniforms would look.
“I like [the new gear] a lot,” said Kenneth Adusei ’20, who is not a varsity athlete. “The soccer uniforms are definitely my favorite. [I like] the way [their jerseys] fade from white to blue, within the lines pattern.”
As of now, brands like Nike, Asics and Adidas trump the Maryland-based company in the market for competitive running shoes and cleats. Cross country, field hockey and squash are all currently competing in different brands that better suit their sports, but are transitioning to Under Armour gear as improvements are made. Additionally, Under Armour does not make certain types of equipment, like hockey skates.
The only team that will not sport Under Armour apparel this year will be the Yale men’s basketball team, which will continue its ongoing contract with Nike through the 2016–17 season.