Tom Babcock on Sarnia Hockey Association's New Rep Team Look..., News (Sarnia Hockey)

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Oct 23, 2016 | Caroline Vallee | 2646 views
Tom Babcock on Sarnia Hockey Association's New Rep Team Look...
You may have noticed that SHA rep teams have a new look - Tom Babcock, Director of Rep Team Equipment, fills us in on what it took to get there.....

What prompted the new design?

Tom Babcock, has been coaching with SHA for many years including as he tells it, the first year the Sarnia Sting Logo was used on rep team jerseys and also when the original design was changed to the design that we used right up until last season.

Over the years as a coach and also as a parent of boys that played in both the A/AA and MD systems he had dealt with jerseys that were too big or too small or discoloured or with rips in them. Over the last few seasons he felt  that "Our Association Look" had dropped off  from what may have once been considered the upper portion of our leagues.  “We were the last to switch from the older knitted style socks to the new pro style design!!” 

After tryouts, two seasons ago, he raised the issue of jerseys and socks with Mike Johnson, our chairperson.  His timing was impeccable.  At that time the rep equipment director position was open.  Mike advised that his best option was to take on the rep team equipment director’s role, a position which would allow him to bring forward change.  Tom Babcock stepped up to become Director of Equipment for Representative Teams starting in the 2015-2016 season!


The first item on the agenda was to design a new sock to match the jerseys that were in use – a quick and easy move away from the traditional knitted sock.  The new socks were a noticeable improvement to our look but at the same time it really made the wear and tear on the old jerseys stand out.


This was the first time he had to deal with the jersey issues on a full association scale not just as a parent of one or two or a coach of 17 but as a director of 310 players, plus coaches managers and parents!  Although it was a difficult task to manage supply of jerseys that fit or weren't ripped and torn or discoloured etc. it allowed him to have many discussions with coaches, parents and most importantly many of our players about changes they would like to see.


How were the new designs arrived at?


Tom spent many hours talking to kids at every age group about jerseys.  He talked to kids about the Sarnia Sting jerseys, which ones they liked and which were their favourites.  He had a mock up made and regularly carried pictures of different designs and different Sting jerseys to show players.  He also asked about their favourite players and their favourite numbers and did they wear the same numbers in hockey as they wore in their other sports?   “I had so many kids tell me that they loved playing spring hockey and very few wore the same number in spring as they did in winter because in spring hockey they could choose the number they wanted where on their winter teams they didn't have many choices.”  It was his interactions with players that ultimately led to the current A/AA jersey designs.  “ I listened to the kids!”


The one change Tom wanted to make with regard to the MD jerseys was to make them different from the A/AA jerseys.  This came with mixed reviews when presented to the Sarnia Hockey Association board.  A point in his favour was that the London organization MD teams’ jerseys were all different from their A/AA teams’ jerseys.  Tom felt and some agreed that Sarnia’s two leagues should each have their own look - anyone coming into the arena would see whether a MD team or an AA team was on the ice based on the jerseys.


Since there were mixed feelings, Tom knew a standout jersey design for the MD group was needed.  Working with the Bauer organization, several designs were developed.  The designs ultimately presented to the board were ones that were unanimously selected by a group of 20 plus youth Tom had surveyed as their favourites.  In the end, the board elected to go with a different logo design but the colour scheme Tom had presented remained.  Tom feels like he won 95% of his MD battles and thinks the jersey look amazing!


What are the differences between the old and new designs?


The old jerseys were very very heavy to wear let alone play hockey in.  The design of the jersey itself was very out dated and had been being used for many years without any changes so in comparison to other centers in our loop, our look was very Blah.  Each set of jerseys were being used for a minimum of three seasons so it would be quite possible and likely that many of the kids going through the system would never actually get to enjoy wearing a brand new jersey!  Number choices were always limited to 2-20 for players and 1 & 30 for goalies.  This presented many cases in which players did not get their number choice – often 3 players wanted the same number!

The new style of jersey, manufactured by Bauer, are sublimated: that is everything on the jersey is built directly into the jersey itself - no need for stitched patches or heat pressed numbers or letters so nothing will ever come off the jersey and make them look worn out or tattered!  They are made from a very light moisture wicking material similar to a dri-fit shirt so will help keep hot sweaty players a little cooler and not feeling so worn down by a heavy wet jersey.  The boys will own their jerseys and have their names on the back designed right into the jersey eliminating the need for name bars (an expense most teams included in their budgets).   Every season the boys will put on a brand new properly fitted, light, beautiful jersey they can proudly wear, with their choice of number on it as the number selection was wide open.


We have certainly have gone from the bottom of our leagues to the very top of our leagues in the way we look!  To quote Tom, “And we all know you gotta look good to play good!”


On behalf of the Sarnia Hockey Association Board, thank you Tom for your efforts in improving Sarnia Hockey Association rep team uniforms! SHA has received lots of positive feedback so far!



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