Almost as important as winning to some fans is how good their team looks on the field — not how they’re playing, but how they’re dressed. High school football uniforms have come a long way from a white road jersey and a color home jersey. Who’s deciding how your team looks?
Spurred largely by marketing opportunities and athletic apparel giants, uniforms and jerseys have become significant parts of teams’ identities. While the marketing/monetizing aspect isn’t as big a factor at the high school level as the college and professional ranks, the desire to stand out and make a fashion statement on the field has undoubtedly trickled down to Friday nights, and in some cases players are taking a bigger role in choosing those statements.
“We have green, white and black jerseys and green, white and black pants,” Mansfield Lake Ridge coach Kirk Thor said. “We use different color combinations throughout the season. Our seniors choose what they want to wear each week. I really like having different color combinations because it gives the kids a voice and it lengthens the life of the jerseys.”
The Mansfield ISD teams tend to avoid exotic designs, so that’s definitely in their favor. Overall, I like their classic styles, but then, I’m old-school.
Mansfield high school football fan Bob Kowalski
And the players are not only getting a more prevalent voice in the week-to-week look of the uniforms, but in the selection of new uniforms when the schools need replacements.
Thor and Mansfield Legacy head coach Chris Melson said they get new uniforms roughly every four years, and get input from players.
“I let my players design and approve our jerseys,” Melson said. “They love being a part of the process.”
Of course, Melson does ensure they keep things within certain limits. He admits some of the players would like to push the boundaries akin to the University of Oregon — the common standard-bearer for outlandish uniforms and combinations.
“They would, but they know it would never fly,” he said. “They know the standard.”
Over at Mansfield High, Daniel Maberry hasn’t yet had to purchase new uniforms. The second-year head coach will at some point, and says he may take a little input, but will ultimately steer the decision.
“Some coaches are a little more simplistic. I don’t like a lot of busy things, that’s just my personality,” he said. “Some people do like a lot of different designs and things like that. That’s just not my style.”
As the original school in the MISD, Mansfield has decades of tradition on the other schools. While that alone doesn’t determine how new uniforms will go, Maberry says it does factor in.
“Over the past 15 years we’ve had a variety of different uniforms, but for the most part they’ve been pretty traditional,” he said. “There were maybe one or two years where our road uniforms were a little bit different. There’s not a standard that we necessarily have to follow, but I do think it’s important that we don’t look crazy. I think there needs to be some type of traditional look that we have.”
That opinion suits Mansfield resident Bob Kowalski just fine. The father of three MHS grads has attended games regularly for a decade and appreciates simplicity in the look.
“The Mansfield ISD teams tend to avoid exotic designs, so that’s definitely in their favor,” he said. “One drawback is that the dark colors that those teams wear can make it hard to see numbers, especially in stadiums that aren’t as new and well-lit as Newsom Stadium. Overall, I like their classic styles, but then, I’m old-school.”