Not many sports allow for the creativity and freedom that gymnastics does, and that creativity shines through the team’s leotards.
In sports, it’s rare to hear about what athletes wear. Dark-colored home uniforms, away whites, and an alternate color is what is typically expected. However, in gymnastics there is more creativity and style in the athletes’ leotards. From sparkles and mesh to the elaborate red and blue designs, a lot goes into the Penn gymnastics leotards.
While other Penn teams may get new uniform designs every couple of years, gymnastics updates its leotards every year. The process starts in May, eight months before the first competition, when every major leotard company releases their catalogs showcasing the new designs. That’s when assistant coach Brittney Miller, who has been in charge of designing the leotards for the past three seasons, looks through the catalogs to decide which company’s designs would work best with Penn’s colors.
After Miller chooses a company and design, the company incorporates Penn’s colors and logos. With a first draft ready, the design is sent back to Miller, who then adds the final touches, completing the design.
“With Ozone [the company for this year’s leotards], we’ve [built] a leotard with them on a video conference,” Miller said. “We built a leotard with them from scratch through the computer.”
In total, the gymnasts have over eight different types of leotards for the year. The first of those is their warmup leotard, which is in the style of a tank top rather than long sleeves like the competition leotards. The athletes get one per year but are able to keep them after the season, so by their senior year each of them will have four tank leotards to choose from.
“Before the competition starts, they wear [the warmup leotard], and then when competition starts they’ll change into a longer sleeved leotard with more sparkles and something that stands out a little more,” Miller said.
Throughout the season, the girls will go through seven different competition leotards. Two of those are breast cancer awareness long sleeve leotards, and the other five showcase Penn’s red and blue colors.
“We’ll rotate them throughout the year, so we’re not always wearing them on back-to-back weekends,” Miller said.
Although Miller makes the final decisions regarding design, the athletes are the ones who will be wearing the leotards, and Miller tries to take their preferences into consideration. She knows that the gymnasts prefer three-quarter sleeves rather than full length long sleeves and are not fans of mesh in the leotards.
“We take into account some of the things that the girls like,” Miller said. “We try to balance what they prefer, but we also have to think about what is going to look nice out there.”
Maximizing performance is always the most important consideration in everything Penn gymnastics does — but looking good is also a priority.