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(Non)Uniformity: Where the buck stops with athletic uniforms

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Every day after school there is usually a game for at least one of Hinsdale Central’s 31 sports. On game days, the team usually wears their uniforms to school. Whether it’s the soccer team wearing their black jerseys, the cheerleaders wearing their white skirts, or the hockey team wearing their red and white Ice Devils jerseys, the whole team dons matching outfits to display their pride to the rest of the school. These jerseys transform the typical student into an officially-licensed Hinsdale Central athlete, but few actually know where these uniforms come from. As it turns out, each team deals with their uniforms on an individual basis.

Paul Moretta, athletic director, said that the responsibility lies on the head coach. “Each year, the head coach of the program has a budget from the school. They’re allotted a certain amount (of money). Most coaches decide to rotate uniforms through and get new uniforms every few years,“ Moretta said. “It depends on the sport.”

Jim Westphal, cross country head coach, also said it depends on the individual team. “We order uniforms on a need basis. The past few years we’ve ordered every other year, and it all depends on the number of guys we have come out.”

The team orders when they need to, and they’ve sometimes cycled uniforms down, having freshmen wear the older, former varsity uniforms, while the varsity team gets new gear. Maggie Wood, a junior on the girls’ track team, has had to use older uniforms for the past few years. “The shorts for the frosh/soph team are kind of gross and baggy, but the varsity girls get spandex shorts, and they’re better and newer.” Westphal said that after taking inventory and finding out how many uniforms are needed, he or the head track coach, Jim Kupres, will simply send in an order form.

Ordering by need and cycling down isn’t the norm in a sport where style matters, like cheerleading. Bianca Lopez, cheerleading coach, said, “We order new uniforms every other year, the girls keep them for at least two years. “

Lopez said that before ordering, the team contacts their representative for the varsity cheer and dance uniform company to begin the long process. “We contact our representative and she’ll tell us any uniform trends and send us catalogs. Then she has a program and does mock-ups with different colors: red and white, red, black and white, and different wording , like Central or Devils. We’ll talk to the varsity girls and the seniors and see what they like, and then finalize our design. Then, the representative comes in and measures all the girls, and we get them ordered. They take about a month to come in. It’s a long process. We want to find out what will look good and each letter is really expensive,” Lopez said.

The involved process of the cheerleading uniforms comes with a price though, as the girls pay for their own new uniforms each year. Lopez says it’s not her decision to make the girls buy their own uniforms. “If it were up to me, we’d just have the school set, but the girls always want new uniforms,” Lopez said.

Lopez explained that the varsity and junior varsity teams have 2-3 uniforms they can wear for an event. The school owns one set of uniforms, while the girls need to buy the new ones each year. Then, the girls get to keep their own uniforms. Lacrosse is another sport where the athletes must buy the uniforms themselves. This is because lacrosse is club sport, and not part of the IHSA. Hoseuk Kim, junior lacrosse player, said, “I’m happy we buy them (the uniforms), we get to keep them and they’re ours, no one else has used them, like football where they all share the uniforms.” Another sport where the athletes need to buy their own uniforms is swimming. Alden Leader, junior swimmer, said, “You have to buy a swimsuit every year, you can’t use one that someone has used before because it’s a swimsuit and that’s gross. It’s a pretty reasonable system, they’re usually between 30 to 50 dollars.”

The costs of uniforms can vary greatly. Cheerleading uniforms can cost 95 to 130 dollars and football jerseys can be around 80 dollars, while the girls’ bowling team just wears polo shirts. If the team is purchasing the uniform, they sometimes need more money than what is in the budget.

Lopez said the cheerleading team is saving part of the budget this year to buy another school set of uniforms. They also raised money over the summer. “We had a Little Devils summer camp,” Lopez said. “There were about 100 girls in elementary school and middle school, and our girls (the cheerleaders) would work with them for two hours and then they would perform with us at the Red and White scrimmage at the start of the season. It was our only fundraiser.” Moretta said the coaches have other ways to add funds as well. “The coach can request a booster club grant, and they can also use the money they receive from running summer camps.”

Programs can also get creative when it comes to saving money. The cycling down allows the program only have to buy uniforms for one level. “A lot of teams do cycle down. The sophomores wear the old varsity stuff, and then it gets passed down to the freshmen. The freshmen end up wearing a lot of the lower quality stuff,” Moretta said. Wood was fine with that. “It’s not unfair,” Wood said. “Varsity is what counts.” Teams can also get creative when buying the new uniforms. Moretta suggested that teams can buy part of a set of uniforms, or just buy one part at a time in order to make it more manageable.

Every team is on an even playing field when it comes to getting uniforms. The uniforms are the responsibility of the head coach to make a decision about, so one team never needs to get new jerseys over another. The coaches can decide when new uniforms are necessary. They can also choose whatever brand they like, as Hinsdale Central does not have any partnerships with specific brands or companies. The cross country team, which Westphal says orders “by need,” has a variety of uniform brands. Moretta says, “We sometimes get money from Nike for coaches’ wear, but we’ll only buy from them if it’s the best price.”

 

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The news site of Hinsdale Central High School
(Non)Uniformity: Where the buck stops with athletic uniforms