Since the recent graduation of stars like Alek Torgersen and Justin Watson, Penn football looks a little different in-game. But even off the field, the Quakers are sporting a new look.
It’s been a few years in the making, but last month, the Red and Blue formally unveiled the team’s new Nike-made outfits, featuring updated colors and an all-white alternate helmet.
The old uniforms, worn by the team since the 2014 season, were due for an update — each team’s uniform generally lasts for three or four years before being re-designed and replaced.
“All of our uniforms are on a life cycle, so they were up for new uniforms this year, and it was our first opportunity since I’ve been here to influence the program in terms of their uniforms,” Director of Equipment Operations Josh LaRosa said.
The team celebrated the new uniforms on team photo day back in August with a promotional photo shoot in Center City. In addition to the sleek home navy blue and away white fans are used to seeing, the team will keep its alternate third gray uniforms also available for use.
The final product would not come together without all the preparation behind the scenes, though. The process is a lengthy one, planned far in advance by Penn’s equipment staff.
“We start thinking about it 18 months in advance,” LaRosa said. We try the month after a season ends to start thinking about what we’re gonna do, and uniforms usually have to be placed with Nike nine months in advance, so there was definitely a lot of planning.”
Not only do the equipment managers have to decide what changes to implement for the uniforms, but they also reach out to as many people in the program as possible to gather suggestions from all levels, from the coaching staff to the players.
Pleasing everyone is obviously difficult, but LaRosa makes sure to take as much into account as possible when thinking about what alterations to make.
“When you go through that process of designing uniforms and putting ideas onto paper, you do it knowing that a lot of people have different opinions, so you reach out to as many people in the department as possible to get feedback,” he said.
Also important to the success of the athletics programs is the support from alumni new and old, so the input they provide is also valuable to LaRosa and his colleagues.
“At a school like Penn, which has great tradition already, you definitely want to make sure those stakeholders are in the loop on what’s going on, even if you’re making small changes,” he added.
The football team isn’t the only Penn squad to be receiving an updated look this year. Also donning new uniforms for the fall is sprint football, and LaRosa hinted at a few sports later in the year whose re-designed uniforms will be revealed in the coming months.
Similar to football, the sprint uniform upgrade also included color alterations and other minor modifications. For the winter and spring sports receiving equipment updates, fans will have to wait and see for what new changes Penn has in the works.
“We’ll definitely have some new uniforms for a couple of the winter sports; it’s an ongoing process for us,” LaRosa said. “For the sports [without new uniforms] this year, it will be next year or the year after, so even right now we’re thinking about that next batch of sports for next year.”
If you’ve seen Penn football take the field this season, you’ve already seen their fresh look in action. Off to a 2-0 start this season, the updated uniforms could be the team's new lucky charm.