Samantha McCready
Samantha McCready
December 10, 2018

'Let your play speak for itself:' Finding space for individual expression in team sports

The Reds Kendra Woodland tracks the puck during a 5-0 win against Dalhousie. | Photo by Andy Cambell

Fashion and the ability to express personality in sports is extremely limited. For the majority of sports teams, including university-level teams, teammates are often required to wear matching uniforms to appear as a united front.

Kendra Woodland, the goalie for the UNB Reds women’s hockey team, expresses her opinion on the importance of looking and playing as a team.

“I believe it’s very important. Greater things are achieved as a group because you have more skills and strengths together.”

Goalkeeper for UNB men’s soccer team Kristian D’Amore has a similar view.

“We are definitely more about the group - I think you have to be if you are part of a team... In any team setting, striving for a collective goal and leaning on each other is key for success,” said D’Amore.

Playing as a team usually means fitting into a collective team identity. However, despite strict dress codes in sports, players still find subtle ways to express their personality through their styling of the uniform.

“Some players may wear their gear in a different way that can show the way they play or the type of player they are (like tucking your jersey in your pants on one side, rolling your jersey sleeves up over your elbow pads, or taping your stick a different way),” said Woodland.

Whereas the majority of hockey players are required to wear the same uniforms, goalies are given more freedom to style their equipment.

“Goalies are honestly the only ones that get to express their personality through their equipment because all the players all wear the same gear where goalies have completely different gear altogether,” said Woodland.

Woodland said her mask expresses who she is by showing her passion for UNB and the new women’s hockey program at UNB.

“When you design a mask, it’s known that the body of the mask is all about the team, whereas the back plate is where you can express your personal things”.

“When I first started to design my mask, I thought of adding a red brick wall. When I was on the UNBF campus for the first time, it was the first thing I noticed. It also sends a message about what my role is on the team. I want to be a brick wall for my team and be as reliable as possible when the going gets tough,” said Woodland.

D’Amore said the personal styling of uniform is also seen in the UNB men’s soccer team.

“The decision to wear or not wear Under Armour, winter gloves, leggings, to tuck in or not tuck in your jersey, or to double sock are really the only subtle things players can do to express their personality,” said D’Amore.

According to D’Amore, the best way for soccer players to express their style is through their cleats.

“Players get really excited about the cleats… All-black boots are big on our team, but you have a couple guys with the flashy neon orange and sky blue. I think that represents their style of play and personality!” said D’Amore.

D’Amore said that the athletes on the team even offer their opinions on following year’s jerseys.

“The team gets together and scrolls through the Adidas catalogue… Our coach is extremely open to our feedback and what we want to wear on the pitch,” said D’Amore.

“I think it’s important for teammates to share the same uniform. It comes back to the fact that the team as a whole is more important than yourself. You are battling to represent UNB as a whole... Let your play speak for itself.”

Woodland agrees that it is important for teammates to dress alike to facilitate team unity.

“I think it’s important to have an opportunity to express your personality through your gear but it’s also important to me that teams wear mostly the same thing so that they look and can play as a team,” said Woodland.

“There’s a saying in the sports world that goes, ‘the name on the front of the jersey is more important than the name on the back.’ Meaning, that the collective unit… is far more important than yourself. We go out every weekend proud to wear UNB’s colours and badge across our chest,” said D’Amore.

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