By John Grimaldi
As an athlete, it’s always exciting to find out your school is getting new uniforms. A clean brand-name jersey that fits well and flaunts your school’s colors, with warm-ups and accessory wear to match, is just about every incoming college athlete’s dream.
Just this summer, Springfield College finalized a deal with The Graphic Edge in which all athletic teams will sport new Under Armour uniforms within the next three to five years. The Graphic Edge is a uniform supplier for a number of athletic brands and Springfield decided to go with Under Armour exclusively for all of its sports.
Director of Athletics, Dr. Craig Poisson, oversaw the process from its beginning during talks last October, until the deal was signed in April and put into effect in June.
“We had four different vendors come in, and they solicited bids to be the uniform and outerwear supplier,” said Poisson, “The coaches were involved in the decision making process, and in the end we made a decision to go with The Graphic Edge and Under Armour.
Director of Athletic Operations Janiece Holder worked hard on securing this deal throughout the acquisition period, and both Holder and Poisson reiterated that it was a great outcome for Springfield, as well as The Graphic Edge.
Holder explained the specifics of the projected new uniforms, and an outline of some of the teams already wearing Under Armour jerseys as well as others that will be starting this year.
“They’ll (teams) be in what we call a sublimated uniform,” explained Holder. “A uniform that starts off as a white piece of material that you put in a computer program. You basically say, ‘I want it to look like this,’ then it dyes the material as it goes through. There are no stitched on numbers, there are no heat pressed numbers, there are no silkscreen numbers. It’s all part of the uniform, which makes it hold up better because you don’t have cracking and peeling.”
Under Armour isn’t a new look on campus. Some teams made the decision, through working with Holder, to make the switch to Under Armour independently just a few years ago.
“We already had two teams in Under Armour in the past. Football and Men’s Lacrosse wore them prior to us even signing this deal.”
Some teams were able to get uniforms right away.
“Men’s soccer, women’s soccer, field hockey, women’s volleyball all got new maroons,” said Holder. “Tennis, men & women’s track and field, softball and baseball are all set to get uniforms this year.”
The deal doesn’t just mean higher quality uniforms, but improvements in inventory.
Say a player forgets a uniform in the locker room at an away game and the school can’t find it. With the deal, a single uniform can be replaced due to how they’re made.
“When you do a silkscreen uniform, most of your companies made you buy six. We were spending a lot of money for one uniform”
Dr. Poisson believes that this is a huge improvement for Springfield Athletics for a number of reasons.
“It allows us to get an awful lot for every dollar we spend through The Graphic Edge and Under Armour,” said Poisson. “It stretched the budget dollars tremendously, and it also will provide for, over time, that uniform look that we were seeking with branding in mind.”
That common brand idea is something that’s important from the very beginning of the recruiting process, all the way to what athletes will eventually wear on the field.
“What we try to do in a four-year period is to have everyone that’s on a roster get a new uniform,” said Holder. “So if you’re a freshman coming in, at some point, we’re going to get you in a new uniform while you’re here.”
Springfield historically has used only a few, familiar logos, but hasn’t really stuck with one to call its exclusive, all-purpose logo.
“The college established its logo moving away from using the presidential seal for everything. The triangle was the college’s crest, it’s still the college’s crest, and it will remain the college’s logo, but it has more of a presidential, academic connotation to it. We now have the Springfield College with the triangle underneath. That’s the college logo, and on the heels of that was the two tone S.”
Students are happy with the Under Armour uniforms that are already on the backs of many athletes around campus, and projecting forward, Springfield College will make the switch to an exclusively Under Armour look.
“The main goal was branding the uniform look,” said Poisson, “So we portray ourselves as one family.”