Hoodie bonanza: Sports team merch emphasizes school pride

January 16, 2024 — by Annika Gho
Graphic by Amelia Chang
Saratoga team hoodies offer a wide variety of designs
The hoodies are more than just a comfortable piece of apparel.

These days, it sometimes seems nearly everyone on campus is wearing a hoodie for groups they’re involved in, and more recently, I’ve noticed that hoodie merchandise for a particular sport are becoming increasingly popular. I’ve seen a large number of navy hoodies with a red falcon and a Nike “swoosh,” which is included on the hoodie for both cross country and volleyball. 

Intrigued by the designs and their purpose, I set out to analyze the most popular team hoodies. 

While teams do not require players to purchase apparel, athletes are encouraged to buy them to match with their teammates and show school pride. The hoodies typically fall somewhere between $50 to $65. Some, such as cross country and track, are sold through the school’s contract with BSN Sports, the Nike vendor, and others, like tennis, are custom-designed on platforms like Custom Ink. 

Volleyball and tennis also change their design each year, but cross country and track stay the same each season. 

“Since we have been coaching the boys, we had the same design, so  runners don’t need to purchase a different hoodie every year if the design changes,” cross-country head coach Kathy Tippetts said. 

Track: the iconic old-school washed gray

The track hoodie is a heather gray pullover with a large kangaroo pocket and thick flat drawstrings for the hood. It’s a classic hoodie cut, a little oversized and the perfect medium between too fitted and too boxy.  “SARATOGA” is written on the left sleeve and in the middle is a big S, with “Falcons” written above.  It’s accompanied by a pair of wings on either side and the words “track” and “field.” These features in the gray, navy, and scarlet colors add to the school spirit. Its timeless, simple design makes it seem that it could have easily been worn by students in the ‘60s.    

Courtesy of Richard Lee

Cross Country: nothing wrong with a falcon

On the other hand, the cross country hoodie is a classic navy blue pullover and a bit more narrow-fitted in comparison with the track one. The hoodie is made from mostly cotton so the material is smooth and thick, providing the necessary warmth. The stitched Nike swoosh patch allows for some texture and verifies it as a sport hoodie. Other features include the thick flat drawstrings, the tight and distinct waistband, and the cuffs at the end of the sleeves. And finally, in the center, there’s a red athletic falcon at the front with the letters “SHSXC” carved into it at the top. 

Photo by Annika Gho

Girls’ Volleyball: a design that says all you need to know

Similarly, the volleyball hoodie has a navy blue base and a small falcon in the middle. It displays “Saratoga Falcons” and “volleyball” in white underneath the falcon and includes the athlete’s last name on the back. 

This design is slightly different from last year, which was a hoodie with a white base instead. “Saratoga Volleyball” was included on the front above the falcon and the athlete’s last name was on the back in red. 

“The team likes doing a different design every year because no one is going to buy the same design every year,” JV volleyball player sophomore Ashni Pillai said. 

Courtesy of Ashni Pillai

Girls’ Tennis: Think jersey font and design 

The girls’ tennis team is currently designing their hoodie for this past season. 

Last year’s design had a simple frontside of “Toga Tennis, est. 2022” in the sporty Greek letters font. The drawstrings are slightly different from the rest of the hoodies, where its texture is similar to yarn and ends in a plastic tip, like a shoelace. 

On the back was the athlete’s last name as well as some graphics of tennis rackets. This year’s design plans to incorporate all of the players’ names on the back. In addition to the name were graphics of stars, tennis rackets and balls, and olive branches surrounding them. 

Courtesy of Nancy Lei

Besides being comfortable pieces of apparel, sports hoodies show unity and school spirit. The cross country and track hoodies also help keep runners warm before and after races. Runners wear the team hoodie to school the day of their meets and at the meets to show school pride. 

Personally, I even wear my cross country hoodie outside of the season. I love how it’s slightly fuzzy for comfort, but it won’t drown me in blue fluff. With the minimalistic design and comfort, it is undoubtedly one of my favorite hoodies. 

In both volleyball and tennis, athletes do not receive the hoodie until after the season is over, partly because of the logistics of the complicated design process. This means they don’t wear them to their games during the season. 

“It’s very comfortable and gives us a lot of volleyball school spirit [around campus] since not a lot of people attend our games,” Pillai said.  

According to senior player Nancy Lei, the tennis hoodie serves many purposes, including expressing team spirit, celebrating the end of the season and promoting the sport. 

“[Merch is] like a souvenir each member of the team gets every year to keep a memory of the season,” Lei said. 

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