WPS unveils 2010 uniforms
One by one, seven first round picks came out onto a small green stage adorned in their brand new 2010 WPS away uniforms, designed by PUMA.
Although the group was drafted only about nine hours earlier, their last names read across the back of each shirt. The seven were joined by a Swedish player with no WPS experience and one league veteran. Each played to the audience, then played into the antics of the next player out on stage.
"You guys are not shy," emcee Karina LeBlanc said in a tone that was one part complimentary, another part surprised.
It was the end of a whirlwind day for the seven first round picks.
One veteran player from each team was there to model the home jerseys.
"This time around is definitely different," said Amy Rodriguez of the Philadelphia Independence, who was in New York last year to model as a Boston Breaker.
"It's so exciting to be here and to put on a jersey for the first time. I'm starting to feel like I am now part of the Philadelphia Independence team."
After the fashion show Rodriguez and other players spent time gushing over PUMA's work with their uniforms and for the company's commitment to WPS.
"For me personally, PUMA has been a great sponsor for the league," said Rodriguez, who will wear her last name on the back of her jersey despite 'AROD' being sewn into the demo jersey.
"I enjoy their gear so much. I think it looks great on us. They have a good mix between what is fashionable and what is appropriate. For me they've been great. I really enjoy wearing their stuff and they add a little bit of a funky flair."
The funkiest flair might be the Washington Freedom home kits, now adorned with pinstripes.
"A lot of people are saying like Yankees so a lot of Yankee fans are liking it," defender and model Cat Whitehill said. "I like it because it’s very European looking. I think it’s good looking and it’s kind of slenderizing so I kind of like that a little bit."
"I think we’ve expressed ourselves quite nicely tonight with the uniforms," PUMA president Jay Piccola said.
"The relationship (with WPS) is a 360 degree partnership. Yes there is a contractual arrangement to make uniforms, but the commitment is to women in general and women’s sports in general. I think that commitment is something that Tonya (Antonucci, WPS Commissioner) and her people embraced at our first meeting. It’s not lip service. We’re truly committed."
Piccola added that PUMA’s relationship with WPS expands well beyond the realm of soccer.
"From a business point of view, it gives us a lot of opportunities not only with soccer and selling WPS (merchandise), but it gives us a chance to translate that into the women’s club business and the women’s fitness business and to communicate with women in general."
"We know how important PUMA is to this league," Whitehill said.
"They've done some incredible things for us and we’re just extremely appreciative of this kind of event. You just don’t see this every day. It’s cool that we can do this kind of unveiling every year. It makes us veterans feel special and I think it makes the younger players feel special as well."
And the coolest part? The players did not see the uniforms until they first tried them on. That part was extra special for the Independence and Atlanta Beat players, who had no 2009 uniforms to compare.
"They kept everything totally under wraps," Rodriguez said.