Monthly Archives: December 2019

COLLECTOR’S CORNER: MUST HAVE ROOKIE JERSEYS

The NHL is becoming a younger league with each passing season. Players are making their debuts in their teen years and becoming superstars in their early 20’s. All hockey fans around the world love seeing players making their debuts and seeing them thrive and make an impact in the game. For all of those who have become jersey collectors or are fans of the game, the hottest jerseys on the shelves are those of the newest players in the league. If you are someone thinking about purchasing a jersey of one of this year’s rookies here are five players that are must-have jerseys for this year’s rookie class.

5. Ottawa Senators- Brady Tkachuk

Brady Tkachuk was drafted 4th overall in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft out of Boston University. The American born winger followed in the footsteps of his dad Keith, and his brother Matthew by playing in the NHL. Through 16 games in his young career, Brady is a point per game player and he brings a gritty style of play to the Senators lineup. He earned the respect of hockey legend Don Cherry after his fight with Justin Abdelkader of the Detroit Red Wings. Brady has the skill and the grit to his game that will make him a force in this league for a long time coming.

4. Dallas Stars- Miro Heiskanen

One of the biggest topics of the 2018 NHL offseason was where Erik Karlsson would end up. The Dallas Stars were one of the teams interested and the Senators asking price was their top prospect Miro Heiskanen. The Stars declined to go through with that trade route and kept their top prospect. That decision turned out to be a great one for the Stars. The 3rd overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft has been a staple at the blue line for the Stars. Coming out of the draft Miro drew comparisons to Pittsburgh Penguins’ defenseman Kris Letang. His puck moving skills are very similar to that of Letang. The Finnish born blueliner has a tremendous offensive upside and is magic with the puck. Heiskanen shined in his NHL debut and took all of two shifts in the NHL to wow the fans. Miro Heiskanen will become a household name and will have a phenomenal career down in Dallas.

3. Montreal Canadiens- Jesperi Kotkaniemi

The 3rd overall pick of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft became the first athlete born in the 2000s to play in a North American major professional league. Kotkaniemi is a Finnish born center that possesses a high hockey IQ with a dangerous shot. Going into the draft Kotkaniemi sat outside the top 10 on the draft boards for all the NHL insiders. When the Montreal Canadiens were on the clock with the 3rd pick, they knew they had something special in Kotkaniemi and in his first season, he is turning heads. The 18-year old drew comparisons to Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings when he was drafted back in June and he is playing the role that Kopitar does for the Canadiens. The high hockey IQ that was seen by the scouts has come to show in the NHL game. Jesperi Kotkaniemi is going to be a staple down the middle for the Montreal Canadiens and is a great cornerstone to build a franchise around.

2. Buffalo Sabres- Rasmus Dahlin

The team that won the NHL Draft Lottery was getting the prized possession of Swedish born defenseman Rasmus Dahlin. The Buffalo Sabres won the draft lottery and welcome Dahlin with open arms. The Swedish born defenseman drew high praise from a fellow countryman in Detroit Red Wings legend Niklas Lidstrom. Lidstrom was asked about Dahlin and said, “He is better than what I was at that age.” One of the best defenseman in the history of the game saying that you are better than them is one of the best compliments a player can get. Dahlin has made a ginormous impact on the Buffalo Sabres this year. The Sabres have gone from the bottom of the league to the top in just one season. Dahlin has made nothing but highlight reel plays with and without the puck. Hockey fans around the world are in for a treat watching this once in a generation player night in and night out. If Dahlin can fulfill his prophecy he is on pace to have a hall of fame like career.

1. Vancouver Canucks- Elias Pettersson

Drawing the respect and comparisons to The Great One by The Great One himself is one heck of a way to start a career. Elias Pettersson was drafted 5th overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Ever since making his NHL debut he has done nothing but score and put up points for the Canucks. Pettersson became the youngest player in NHL history to score 10 goals in his first 10 games. The highlights of Pettersson have been plentiful. Against the Red Wings he scored on a booming slap shot that drew comparisons to Wayne Gretzky’s famous slap shot goal and after getting tripped up he made a nice pass to set up teammate Brock Boeser for a goal while lying on his stomach. In the Canucks yearly skills competition Pettersson won the hardest shot completion with a shot of 99.4 MPH. The shot wowed fans all over the world due to the fact he still only weighs 176 lbs. Once he develops and becomes bigger, his shot can become lethal to opposing teams and goalies. Pettersson, in his very young NHL career, is close to a point per game player with 42 points in 38 games and is already being considered a lock for the Calder Trophy(Rookie of the Year). Vancouver has something very special in Pettersson and for hockey fans and jersey collectors around the world, his jersey is a must-have.

Nike, Ohio State Now Selling “Alumni” LeBron James Jerseys

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a bigger fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes than LeBron James – literally and figuratively. But it’s also well-known that he didn’t attend any college, let alone Ohio State.

So it’s a little weird to see that an Ohio State LeBron James “alumni” jersey is suddenly being sold by Nike.

But that’s exactly we have on the market according to Ohio State reporter Andrew Lind.

Nike is now selling a basketball jersey with the Ohio State name and colors, and with LeBron’s No. 23 jersey number on both sides.

LeBron has stated on some occasions that if he likely would have attended Ohio State if he had gone to college.

He ultimately went to the NBA straight out of high school, staying in his home state of Ohio by being drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers – less than 50 miles from his hometown of Akron.

One can only imagine what kind of success Ohio State would have found with a talent like LeBron.

But it’s still pretty weird to think of LeBron as a college alum for anyone, let alone a school that prides itself on its football program like Ohio State does.

From Football to Baseball, Tim Tebow’s Jerseys are Perfect Keepsakes

If you take a look at my Facebook posts from middle school, you’ll come across a lot of Tim Tebow quotes. He was such an inspiration growing up. As a young woman, it’s rare that you look up to a college football player. Tim Tebow once turned a huge Texas fan into a Florida Gators fan. Hook ’em forever, but Tebow’s college football days were everything to me.

Take away his football talent, and you still have a man with an impressive skillset. After his time in the NFL, Tebow pursued a baseball career. Although he’s no longer playing professional football or baseball, you still have an athletic and influential person that sports fanatics and analysts still talk about today. Pay homage to the man with your own Tim Tebow Jersey.

Tim Tebow Jerseys

1. Tim Tebow Autographed Nease High School (White #5) Jersey w/”05 State Champs” – Tebow Holo

Throwing it back to the good ol’ high school days. Here’s where it all started!

2. Unsigned Tim Tebow Florida Blue Custom Stitched College Football Jersey Size Men’s XL New No Brands/Logos

Tebow’s Florida uniform topped jersey sales lists for years, even if he never made a dime off them.

3. Unsigned Tim Tebow Denver Orange Custom Stitched Football Jersey Size Men’s XL New No Brands/Logos

Relive Tebow’s playoff victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers over and over. Show people you’ve been a longtime fan of the 2007 Heisman winner with this Denver Broncos jersey.

4. Nike Tim Tebow #15 New York Jets NFL Jersey Adult Size 48

Right after Denver released Tebow, he had a short career with the Jets. I feel like Jets fans are just as passionate as Dallas Cowboys fans, so go ahead and get the jersey. Forget the stats.

5. Tim Tebow New England Patriots Jersey Nike Youth Large Rare 14/16 Hard To Find

You either love them or you hate them. Regardless, Tebow was once a Patriot, so we were all rooting for them at some point.

6. Tim Tebow #11 Philadelphia Eagles Jersey White Size 52

This jersey is just strange to look at. Number 11? Yep, technically Tebow was an Eagle at some point.

7. Majestic Tim Tebow New York Mets Youth White Home Official Cool Base Player

Tebow was a talented baseball player. Rumor has it a Los Angeles MLB team had an eye on Tebow when he was in high school. Can you imagine if he would’ve went into the major leagues instead of the NFL?

Well, after his football career ended, Tebow played with the Mets for a minute. You can remember his time with the minor leagues with this Mets jersey.

8. Tim Tebow Jersey Authentic New Tork Mets Sz 44 Majestic

He’ll never catch Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso on the field, but Tebow is still one of New York’s favorite players. This Mets jersey is nice! It’s only $70, which isn’t bad for a jersey. Show off your love for number 15.

Visit the NFL Shop for more top seller replica jerseys and collectibles. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly way of showing your Tim Tebow pride, consider number T-shirts. Now, when is this guy going to be inducted into the Florida Hall of Fame?

From Timeless Classics To Uniforms That Look Like The Trash Bags They Belong In, These Are The All-Time Best And Worst Looks Of Dallas-Area Sports Teams.

By now, we’ve all seen those dreadful new Dallas Mavericks City Edition jerseys — the ones that look like they were designed by a fortysomething who’d heard about the 1990s but somehow managed to never actually live in them.

Yes, these ones:

Nope, they’re not great!

Of course, as much enjoyment as we get from dunking on the Mavs’ poor sartorial and design choices throughout the years, it should be said that our professional basketball franchise isn’t the only offender when it comes to sports teams around these parts just severely missing the mark on the fashion front.

At the same time, we should also point out that there have been some truly great uniforms worn by our area athletic organization at certain points, too.

In this post, we aim to highlight both — the good and the bad — by attempting to identify the best and worst uniforms that each of our region’s teams have worn throughout the years.

Dallas Mavericks

THE BEST: The Dallas Mavericks’ throwback green jerseys, most recently seen in the 2015-2016 season, are so adored that they’ve even inspired an entire group of people on Twitter to start up a #GreenItBack campaign in hopes of convincing Mark Cuban and the rest of the team’s front office to bring these bad boys back into the squad’s regular uniform rotation — and hopefully as its main look. It’s tough to disagree with those folks; this look is among the cleanest the team had ever worn, and its font choice is — a rarity for this franchise — actually readable and good. Seriously, the little curls off the D and the Ls are a great touch, as is the green inner outline.

THE WORST: This design, worn only once in 2003 before being taken off the market, are so bad they’ve become almost legendary. It’s easy to understand why; they look like what you’d get if you just wrapped a human in tin foil and said, “OK, now, go play some basketball.” I’m literally sweating while I look at these things because I imagine the players were actually being cooked alive while wearing these on the court.

Dallas Cowboys

THE BEST: For all the issues one may have with Jerry Jones and the way he runs his team, you can’t accuse him of missing the mark much on the branding front. The Cowboys have a classic look, and they rarely stray from it. A lot of this stems from how simple the team logo is, and how that logo fits into the simple design of the jersey. I mean, it’s just a star! And because it’s just a star, you can package it almost any way you want, in any combination of the team’s silver or blue or even white color schemes, and call it a day. This is a look that just screams, “Don’t mess with success!”

THE WORST: OK, so, this is the exception to the just-slap-a-star-anywhere-and-you’re-good-to-go rule. When you make the star white and putting it right on the shoulder, it looks more like a theatrical production’s interpretation of military attire than it does something that looks sleek on the football field.

Texas Rangers

THE BEST: Most plain white jerseys are pretty boring, granted. But the simplicity of this Nolan Ryan-era Rangers look really works in its favor. With the team name scripted out in that classic baseball font where the last letter swoops back under all the other ones, this jersey looks crisp and timeless.

THE WORST: The Rangers just recently announced a slate of new uniform options for the 2020 season and, while most of them are pretty cool, the team’s planned spring training look leaves a lot to be desired. Am I nuts in thinking that it looks like a Polo shirt that’s missing its collar? The modernized version of the old State of Texas logo that’s placed on the left chest just screams golf shirt to me. It’s a very “I’m going to find this at T.J. Maxx one day” kind of jersey — and, even looked at in greater detail, it doesn’t improve much.

Dallas Stars

THE BEST: The newest Stars jersey is also the team’s best. Designed for the upcoming Winter Classic match-up that the team is hosting at the Cotton Bowl here in Dallas on New Year’s Day, this design is a clever nod to the uniforms worn by the first pro hockey team in Dallas history, but in the modern team’s Victory Green and white color palette. Another stellar design that errs on the side of simplicity over complication, it even incorporates a little flash into its package in interesting ways, like with how it hides the Texas state flag within its inside back collar. Sure, maybe using a star to stand in for the “A” in “Stars” is a little cliche at this point — but at least the letter and the symbol used to stand in for it both have points at the top — unlike some other examples of letter-swapping that you can find in bad designs elsewhere.

THE WORST: Oh. Oh, no. I’m not even sure what to say about this one. This 2003-2006 alternate sweater design looks like if you took the Chicago Bulls logo and pointed the horns down, then transported this poor bovine creature into space and converted it into a constellation through some kind of dark magic. It’s also popularly referred to as the “Mooterus” jersey, since it bears a bizarre resemblance to the shape of a uterus. Beyond those critiques, the curved lines and shooting star added onto this package fail to contribute anything positive to the mix. This is just a terrible miss on all levels.

Dallas Wings

THE BEST: N/A.

THE WORST: This isn’t necessarily the Wings’ fault, as the WNBA forces all teams in its league to use the same basic design template, swapping out only the colors and logo in order to fit each team’s aesthetic. The Wings’ color scheme is actually pretty interesting and undeniably eye-grabbing, and could be put to use in cool ways by the team if it had the freedom to explore that. Alas, they don’t, and the WNBA’s template doesn’t do the team’s look any favors, leaving its players to look like walking highlighters.

FC Dallas

THE BEST: (To be clear, we’re sticking to post-Dallas Burn-era jerseys here.) Considering just how steeped in tradition and pride the State of Texas is — sometimes a good thing, sometimes not a good thing — it’s a little surprising that more area teams don’t rock jerseys that have been inspired by the state flag. But FC Dallas did just that with this kit, and it makes for a clean look — one that manages to be pure Texas without screaming about being pure Texas.

THE WORST: Woof. It’s always a risky endeavor when a team comes out with an alternate jersey that uses a color scheme different than its usual look, but it’s worst when it’s done in tribute to another team, as was the case with this 2006 look that supposed paid homage to Mexico’s famed Tigres club. I’m sure someone in the marketing department thought this would be a good way to endear FC Dallas to the fanbase of a more historic franchise than its own, but the execution here is just an eyesore.

Local Colleges

THE BEST: An easy choice, frankly. SMU’s Triple D marketing campaign and subsequent Dallas-themed jersey from this year has been universally praised as a perfect ode to the City of Dallas and maybe the best branding decision that a local sports team has made in a long time. Is it a coincidence that the team that got to wore unis this clean was also the best one that the school fielded in literal decades? We think not.

THE WORST: Can someone explain to us why TCU had orange numbers on its alternate uniform this year? Because the school’s own explanation of this design doesn’t do that for us at all. Apparently, this look was inspired by the school mascot’s ability to shoot blood from its eyes as a sort of final defense mechanism when facing down a predator — which, OK, maybe explains the red on the gloves and on the helmet. But why orange on the jersey, then? If I saw someone wearing this around town, I’d immediately think that a Syracuse fan had moved to Dallas. I wouldn’t think, “Oh, orange is kind of like red, which is the color of the blood that horned frogs squirt out of their eyes when they’re worried they might die.” But, hey, maybe that’s just me.

Can the Color of Your Team Uniform Give You a Competitive Edge?

It’s not uncommon for athletes to have good luck charms, lucky numbers, and superstitions, including some downright bizarre pre-game rituals. For instance, Michael Jordan wore his UNC shorts under his Chicago Bulls uniform in every NBA game. Before a night game, third baseman Wade Boggs would begin practice at exactly 5:17 PM and start wind sprints at precisely 7:17 PM. It sounds crazy, but it seemed to have worked for these two Hall of Famers.

One superstition some athletes hold may actually have some scientific merit. Studies have shown that the colors of athletic uniforms can sometimes make the difference between winning and losing. Certain colors associated with dominance and aggression can actually empower players and give them a competitive edge.

Colors have a psychological effect on the animal brain, ours included. A certain hue can impact a person or animal’s mood, behavior, brain activity, and body posture. For instance, in nature, orange and red signal aggression and danger to a variety of organisms. In many human societies, red is associated with anger and fear. Black often signifies dominance and death.

When it comes to athletic uniforms and coaches apparel, scientists say that the colors black and red may affect the way the team’s opponent sees them as well as the way the wearer feels and performs. During a 1988 study, Cornell University’s Mark G. Frank and Thomas Gilovich showed 25 subjects a series of images of hockey and football team uniforms in different colors. They found that the subjects were more likely to label those in black uniforms as more aggressive than those in other colors. The researchers also concluded that hockey players wearing black team apparel acted more aggressively on the ice.

In a similar study, Olympic athletes wearing red were found to be more likely to defeat those in blue uniforms, according to researchers from the University of Durham, Russell Hill and Robert Barton.

Of course, if red and black uniform colors were actually a dominant factor in determining the success of a team, the Atlanta Falcons would have won a Super Bowl by now and the New York Yankees would not have earned 26 World Series titles. Nonetheless, if you’re choosing a design for your custom team uniforms, it might not hurt to go with something red and black.

For Navy Midshipmen, small football uniform patches carry important stories

Justin Self had always leaned on his father, Mike, to pursue his dream of playing college football. Drills on the middle school field, Friday night lights in Texas, Saturday morning garage workouts, summer camps and official visits — Mike guided him through all of it. The two bonded through their love for the sport, as Mike was born in Arkansas and raised in Birmingham, Alabama — a mecca of college football — and Justin grew up about 35 minutes from the historic Cotton Bowl.

Mike had played two seasons as a long-snapper at North Alabama before serving in the reserves and enlisting in the Navy, where he worked mostly as a radio operator but was never an officer. Considering his background, it was only natural that part of his son’s recruiting process included an official visit to the U.S. Naval Academy. Justin was sold as soon as he met the team.

“I had always joked with him about how I was going to be an officer when I graduated and he was an enlisted guy,” Justin said, “so he was going to have to salute me.”

It happened sooner than expected.

“I remember my signing day,” said Justin, now a junior offensive tackle. “When I finally signed, he broke down in tears. Afterward, the gym was empty, it was just me and him in there. He came up and he gave me a salute.

“‘You’re going to be an officer,’ he said.”

In May 2017, before Justin’s plebe summer, the training program for incoming freshmen at the U.S. Naval Academy, Mike Self died after a heart attack he suffered during a family trip to visit relatives in Alabama. He was 49 years old, and Justin was 19.

About a year later, Justin was home on break and rooting around in his dad’s storage shed in their backyard, searching for things from his father’s childhood when he spotted an old cardboard box.

The otherwise nondescript cube was a treasure trove of Mike Self’s Navy days, filled with pins and badges he wore on his old uniform, pictures, foreign currency and a yearbook from the three different ships he had served on.

Justin Self is wearing his late father's USS Dahlgren patch, which Self found in a box.

Justin opened the unmarked box and spotted the patches his dad had cut off his uniforms, thin black strips in a slight arch with U.S.S. DAHLGREN stitched in white letters. Excited, he ran inside the house to show his mom. That night, an idea hit him:

“When I dress for the Army-Navy, game, I’m putting these patches on.”

Selecting a patch for the uniform worn in Saturday’s Army-Navy game is one small, but significant, personal choice given to the Midshipmen on a campus where nearly every other decision is made for them, including what they wear and how they wear it.

Since August, long before the first snap of the season, Navy’s specially designed uniforms for its game against Army in Philadelphia were hidden in the academy’s Halsey Field House. They weren’t completed, though, until late November, when the finishing touches were sewn on — one patch chosen by each player from more than 600 shipped to Annapolis from all over the world, or passed along through friends and family, representing all different branches of the military, including, of course, the Army.

At Navy, it’s a unique tradition that began in 1989. Army also wears patches chosen specifically for this game, but collectively honors a division as a team.

Each stitched symbol tells its own story, and while some are chosen simply for style, other reasons run deeper. For the second straight season, Justin Self will honor his father — but he also saved enough of the patches for his little brother, Brent, who committed to play at Navy next year.

“For some guys, it’s emotional,” Justin said. “They do it because it’s something they’ve always believed in. Some guys pick because it’s the coolest patch on the table. For me, it’s knowing [my dad] is on the field with me since he can’t be in the stands. It’s my little way of having him there with me on the field.”

Patches are mailed from all over the world in hopes a player will select them for his jersey.

The patch is in the mail

Dear Navy Football,

I’m submitting my squadron’s patch for consideration for this year’s Army-Navy game. The squadron is VAW-121 Bluetails from Norfolk, VA, and we fly the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye. We have been deployed since April 1st onboard the USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN where we have been flying missions in support of U.S. objectives in the Arabian Sea. We have several alumni in the squadron, but unfortunately we will not be able to attend the game. I know it would mean a lot to all of the alumni and Sailors in the squadron to see the command represented front and center at America’s game. It would lift their spirits on what has been a very long and demanding deployment. Thank you for your consideration. GO NAVY! BEAT ARMY!

Very respectfully,
LCDR Vaughn “Patchez” Villarreal
Operations Officer
VAW-121 Bluetails
USNA Class of 2007

The letters pour in from literally all over the globe, detailing missions abroad and at sea, and explaining the significance of the enclosed patches. There are heaps of them in clear plastic bins; many are spread out on tables in a colorful array for the players to examine. Some letters are directed to specific players, but no one forces them to wear that specific patch.

Sometimes, it means just as much to have the patch chosen as it does to wear it.

“I’m not sure if the patch ended up getting picked or not …,” Lt. Cmdr. Villarreal wrote in an email to ESPN, “but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.”

On Nov. 7, players slowly shuffled into the equipment room to sift through rows of various patches in many shapes and sizes from different commands. Like in a department store, some players asked to put the patches on hold.

“It’s back there, it should be in the top drawer,” junior striker Jacob Springer reminded Greg Morgenthaler, associate athletic director of equipment operations for football. “Top right. You held it for me.”

Since Aug. 30.

Sophomore cornerback Mikey McMorris enlisted the help of his older brother on FaceTime as he browsed the selections. Sophomore receiver Mychal Cooper was on the phone with his stepfather, Jon Arnold, in the equipment room as they decided Cooper would wear one of Arnold’s old Army patches.

Joe Goff is wearing his brother's Army patch to honor the West Point grad.

“All of these mean a bunch of great things, but I really have no connection to those,” Cooper said, looking at the patches on cluttered tables. “My stepdad, he’s been a really big influence in my life. He was in the Army. He was in the 101st Airborne Division. I’d like to wear something that means something to me.”

Peter Ford, Navy’s assistant director of equipment operations, looks more like a lineman than a tailor, but he boasts he can sew one patch in under a minute (as long as it’s a circle, there’s no Velcro to burn off, and it’s not something complicated — like Eagle wings).

“I learned to sew from YouTube,” he said.

Ford and his colleague, Shari Mangas, use the two sewing machines in Halsey Field House, where Mangas had been sewing on the A’s for the American Athletic Conference for over a month. The Navy uniforms will also feature college football’s 150th anniversary patch for the first time this season.

On the day before Thanksgiving, the entire team went to the theatre at the Annapolis Mall to see “Knives Out.” Before the movie started, they were treated to a special preview on the big screen — the reveal of their uniform for the Army game.

“I was not expecting it,” senior long-snapper Michael Pifer said. “It was a really good, collective reaction. I’m pretty sure everyone liked the concept and the theme of it.”

Senior nose guard Jackson Pittman and junior linebacker Austin Talbert-Loving have chosen to wear the patch featuring a castle sent in by the battalion of former Navy defensive end Amos Mason. A 2017 graduate, Mason is now a combat engineer officer in the Marine Corps, based in Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Pittman and Mason went to the same high school, Brentwood Academy in Tennessee, where Pittman’s father, Jack Jr., coached them both.

“I’m excited that he chose to wear my badge,” Mason said. “You can send them in, but there’s no guarantee that those guys are going to wear it.”

Defensive co-captain Nizaire Cromartie will wear a patch in memory of recent graduate Joshua Kaleb Watson; he was one of three U.S. sailors, along with Mohammed S. Haitham and Cameron Scott Walters, fatally shot on Dec. 6 at Naval Air Station Pensacola. Cromartie’s patch was taken from the flight suits of his classmates from the Naval Aviation Schools Command in Pensacola, Florida, where Watson, Haitham and Walters were assigned.

Players in search of a patch sort through options to have stitched on their uniforms.

Keeping memories alive

Not all patches come to the equipment room.

Navy offensive tackle Billy Honaker will wear a patch to honor his cousin, Christopher Stephen Honaker, who was killed in Afghanistan. Senior safety Elan Nash lets his dad, who served four years on the USS Forrestal, choose a patch from his dress uniform. This year he picked a Petty Officer 3rd Class Aviation Structural Mechanic badge.

“He was a big influence in me coming here. And being affiliated with the Navy and the Naval Academy in the first place, when I was younger he had taken me to some games, just as a fan, because we’re from the Philadelphia area,” said Nash, whose grandfather also served in the Navy. “Obviously, he’s had a huge impact on my life. … It’s just a cool way to honor my legacy and my family a little bit, more than just the name on the back, but something more specific to what my dad actually did in his time in the service.”

Senior offensive tackle Joe Goff picked his brother’s Army patch (yes, he’s allowed) because he said the West Point grad is the reason he plays football.

“I’m just more than happy to honor him and be able to show him I’m thankful for what he’s done for me,” Goff said. “Even with the whole Army-Navy tradition, the family love is definitely what’s more important to me.”

One of the most remarkable origin stories is of Pifer’s patch. He was sitting in his dorm room in October, scrolling through Facebook, when he came across a post celebrating the 95th birthday of his friend’s grandfather, John Kepechia:

Happy 95th Birthday to John Kepechia! He was a member of the US Navy Torpedo Squadron VT305. They were shot down over the Solomon Islands on their 34th Mission May 21st, 1944. John was 19 years old. Of the survivors he is the only one remaining.

“I was like wait, I didn’t realize all this happened,” Pifer said. “I can’t believe I never heard anything about this. It was kind of surreal.”

“He was 19 years old and people were dying in his arms,” Pifer’s mom, Jill DeNillo, said of Kepechia. “I’m bawling reading this, so I’m investigating it more. We knew he was a veteran, but we didn’t have any clue until just recently that he’s the last remaining survivor.”

Michael Pifer had a replica made of a patch worn by a friend's grandfather, 95-year-old John Kepechia, when he was shot down over the Solomon Islands in 1944.

Knowing he had to pick a patch for the Army-Navy game, Pifer immediately thought of Kepechia, who follows Pifer’s Navy football career. Pifer played youth football all the way through high school with Kepechia’s grandson, Tyler Lavelle. There was one problem: Kepechia’s patch — and everything else from that day — has been missing since he was taken prisoner. Kepechia had a drawing, though. It was a picture of a red donkey on tan felt, and according to a collector’s site, it was made in Australia and only 200 were ordered.

DeNillo did some searching through social media and eventually found a company called Wings and Things in Pensacola that would replicate the patch.

“Since it’s in World War II and the 1940s, I didn’t know if anyone was going to be able to create the patch,” Pifer said, “Whenever we figured out we could, I was like, ‘Yeah, no-brainer, let’s do this.’

“We actually were able to get some in bulk, so we were able to give some to him and his family so they are able to pass that down and keep telling the stories.”

The memorabilia is what keeps the stories, and memories, alive.

Following his military career, Mike Self worked as an electronics technician for a company in the oil industry and focused on his wife, Ginger, and their two boys, Justin and Brent. When Justin was in high school, he and his dad “had this little thing” where Mike would write him a note every Thursday night and slip it into his lunchbox on Friday mornings to encourage him for that night’s game. He continued to do that through email when Justin was at the Navy prep school.

Now, Ginger writes them, and her voice cracked as she talked about it.

“I started reading some of them, what Mike wrote, and thought, ‘OK, how could I put it in my own words?'” she said. “I just encourage him to stay with it, ‘What your dad taught you, just keep it up.’ I always end it with — because my husband did, too — ‘Love, one of your biggest fans, Mom.’ Because one of his biggest fans is always watching, too. I say that to him, too, ‘You know he’s watching.'”

Justin still saves the emails. He has a box of his own, just like his dad.

“It means everything to me,” he said. “I’ve got them saved in folders every time she sends them to me. I want to be able to, in 20 or 30 years, share those with my kids. I even have my dad’s old paper ones in a box at home somewhere. I just want to be able to show them what my parents did for me.”

On Saturday, with one small patch, he’ll show everyone watching, but he won’t be the only Midshipman wearing a story.

San Diego State Aztecs To Wear Michael Jordan-Era Chicago

Back in November, the San Diego State men’s basketball team unveiled turquoise uniforms in honor of Native American Heritage Month that were somewhat reminiscent of the Chicago Bulls’ recently unveiled City jerseys.

But while that was simply a coincidence, the Aztecs actually revealed alternate uniforms this week that are an exact replica of those worn by the Bulls during the Michael Jordan era for Sunday’s game against San Jose State (3 p.m. ET on FOX Sports San Diego).

While Jordan played his college ball at North Carolina, San Diego State’s move from Nike to subsidiary Jordan Brand last season facilitated the decision to honor the greatest basketball player of all time.

“As a guy who grew up in the ’90s (when) Michael Jordan was winning all those championships and the Bulls were the class of the NBA, I thought it would be cool to put our team in a uniform that so many of us grew up with and idolized,” Aztecs director or operations Matt Soria told The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Of course, the only difference between San Diego State’s uniforms and Chicago’s are the wordmark on the front and logo within the diamond-shaped shorts design. Nobody on the team will wear Jordan’s No. 23, either.

“They’re very similar to the Bulls uniform,” junior forward Matt Mitchell said. “I love them. I’m sure the entire team will love wearing them.”

This marks the first time since the 2014-15 season that the Aztecs will wear red uniforms thanks to a number of notable road losses that season. They’ve worn black on the road ever since.

The Spartans will counter with their gold uniforms on Sunday afternoon, meanwhile.

Family searching for deceased son’s Saints jersey, missing since 49ers game

“That was his, it still has his smells … We know he wore it at every game. It would be great to get back.”

A family of Saints fans from Mobile, Ala. is desperate for your help to find a missing Drew Brees jersey.

They brought it with them to the home game at the Dome last Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, but it hasn’t been seen since. The jersey belonged to Bobby Harper Jr., an emergency room nurse who passed away in a car accident in January.

The Harper family have been Saint fans and season-ticket holders for years. They had several family traditions they carried out at every home game including wearing the same outfit to each game.

“We all have our game day attire, we don’t change,” said Jennifer Harper. “Same socks, same shoes, same blouse, everything.”

Bobby Harper Jr. stuck out in a crowd at the Dome. He was 6’7” with red hair and a red beard. He always wore his Drew Brees jersey to the games.

“He was on his way to help a coworker who was stranded when he was killed in the car accident,” said his mother, Jennifer Harper.

The shock of his loss hit his family hard. The Saints traditions became part of Bobby’s end-of-life celebrations. They hosted a Saints tailgate at their home for his memorial. Bobby’s ashes are in a Saints urn.

This season, his family has attended games with his old jersey and hung it on his empty seat.

“There’ll be times I hold onto it,” said Jennifer Harper. “I clutch it to my chest, I put it in front of me cheering.”

Jennifer Harper says she remembers packing up the jersey and putting it in her clear plastic bag before leaving the stadium Sunday. When the family got to the car, they realized it was gone.

“I think and assume someone took it out of the bag,” said Bobby Harper Sr. “It was an easy pick, they probably took it for a souvenir.”

Family wants whoever has the jersey to know its true value.

“That was his, it still has his smells,” said Bobby Harper Sr. “We know he wore it at every game. It would be great to get back.”

“It would mean the world to me, it’s just part of our tradition,” said Jennifer Harper.

Family believes the jersey could have been taken somewhere near their seats in Section 1-19 rows 13 and 14. The Drew Brees jersey was an extra-large. They say if someone would like to return the jersey, they can send it to WWLTV.

The New Orleans Saints have reached out to the family to offer a new jersey, signed by Drew Brees.

IronPigs: Say goodbye to Friday night black, hello gold uniforms

The Lehigh Valley IronPigs will honor Minor League Baseball’s best fans with “Gold-standard” jerseys and caps, which will be worn during Friday home games this season.

The new jerseys and caps will debut on Friday, April 17, the IronPigs’ 2020 home opener against the Pawtucket Red Sox.

These jerseys will be replacing the black “Molten” jerseys that previously were worn on Friday nights. This also is the first jersey unveiling since 2018, when the IronPigs introduced their maroon Sunday uniforms.

“These uniforms represent what we as an organization think of our fans — the ‘gold standard’ in Minor League Baseball,” IronPigs President/General Manager Kurt Landes said in a statement. “Our team will wear these uniforms every Friday home game knowing that they have the best fans in Minor League Baseball behind them. Symbolically, these Gold-Standard uniforms will be the epitome of what being an IronPigs fan is all about.”

The “Gold Standard” initiative was brought to life when the IronPigs were awarded the Larry MacPhail Award in October. The annual award acknowledges the top marketing and promotional Minor League Baseball team.

In addition to winning the industry’s most coveted award, the IronPigs have won more Golden Bobbleheads (5) than any other team in baseball. Golden Bobble awards are given to the year’s top promotions and events within Minor League Baseball. The “Gold Standard” uniforms are a direct tribute to IronPigs fans whose support has allowed for the organizations’ numerous successes since the franchise’s inception in 2008.

The uniforms will feature a gold base with “IronPigs” across the chest in metallic gold with black trim. A black stripe will be at the base of each sleeve with a “Gold-Standard” patch, featuring five gold stars, on the left sleeve. The five-stars represent the top rating of the IronPigs and their fans. The team will also be wearing all-gold caps with a gold liquid chrome IronPigs logo on the front with five stars located on the side.

The “Gold-Standard” jerseys and caps, as well as other innovative merchandise, are available at the Majestic Clubhouse Store at Coca-Cola Park and ShopIronPigs.com.

The 2020 IronPigs season is the team’s 13th as the Philadelphia Phillies’ top affiliate and 13th at Coca-Cola Park.

New coach, new players, new hockey season at De La Salle

 

Too bad there aren’t names on the backs of the hockey jerseys at De La Salle.

New head coach Nick Badder could use the help.

Adhesive name tags at the very least.

The Pilots lost 13 seniors to graduation and return less than a handful of players listed on last year’s roster.

“Yeah man, it is like misfit toys. We’re trying to figure it out right now,” said Badder. “We have one returner from last year who really got minutes. We have a brand new team. We are trying to figure this out together. A new coach. New teammates. It is going to take some time.

“I have to be a little more patient with them. I am expecting a lot out of them, but I know they can do it. Today, that was a good team we played. That was our best game of the year. I felt like our effort was there,” continued Badder.

De La Salle gave everything host University of Detroit Jesuit could handle before falling 4-3 in a Catholic League quarterfinal game played at the Viking Ice Arena in Hazel Park.

“Today they acted like they wanted to be here and that is the biggest thing,” said Badder. “I am proud of them for not giving up. We dominated that second period. I was very encouraged by the effort.”

The Pilots fell behind 2-0 on two late goals in the first period.

The first was scored by U-D’s Jimmy Gormley, who knocked in an unassisted power play goal with just about two minutes to play in the opening period. Just a minute later, Xavier Villaire scored.

However, the Pilots evened things at 2-2 in the second period on goals by Jack Rivera at the 6:45 mark and Thomas Bechtell about a minute later.

A goal by U-D’sBrendan Zemke with 3:09 to play in the second period gave the Cubs a 3-2 advantage.

Gormley got his second goal of the game midway through the third period to put his team up 4-2.

A couple of minutes later, the Pilots responded with a power play goal by Matthew Rogers.

“I honestly wasn’t sure what the expectations of the team were when I took the job,” said Badder. “ It’s my first year here. I didn’t see them play at all last year. I didn’t know much about them.

“As a coach, I always consider myself an older brother to the players rather than an authoritarian figure like a father. I try to relate to them and get them playing the game the way I’d like to play. It is going to take some time but I think I’ll get here,” continued the first-year De La Salle coach.

Badder, 29, served as the head hockey coach at Romeo High School from 2014-18, leading the Bulldogs to three MHSAA regional titles (2015, ’16, ’17) and the 2016 Division 2 state championship. The title marked the school’s first-ever hockey crown and the first hockey championship for a Macomb County school since Fraser won the Class A tournament in 1983.

He spent last year leading the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies Bantam AA team.

The Pilots will once again play in the South Division of the Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League, squaring off against divisional opponents Grosse Pointe North, Grosse Pointe South, Trenton and U-D Jesuit. The team will then cross over against MIHL powers Brother Rice, St. Mary’s, Cranbrook and Detroit Catholic Central. Its non-league slate includes top-notch competition such as Hartland, Eisenhower and Livonia Stevenson.

Rivera, a sophomore, had a strong game against U-D Jesuit.

”We stuck together. We went down two goals and we didn’t lose it. It was a back and forth game. Either one of us could’ve won. With the coach we have and the potential we have as a team, we could go all the way,” said Rivera.

“I played for Coach Badder with OJG (Oakland Jr. Grizzlies). I love De La Salle. I love the team. I love our coach. I decided playing for the high school would be fun. It has been a blast,” continued Rivera, a sophomore.

“People play the sport to have fun and I am having fun right now. That is all I could ask for,” continued Rivera.

CHIPPEWA VALLEY 1, BLOOMFIELD HILLS 1

Joe Zerilli scored in the first period to help the Big Reds tie the Black Hawks at Fraser Hockeyland.