The 1998 Cougar football team won the only national championship in APU football history. This year’s squad shares a noticeable quality with that team: For the first time since that championship season, the Cougs are sporting players’ last names on the back of their uniforms.
Although a small feature, it is something that means a whole lot to the players and coaches.
“1998 was a special year for us, but it’s a team that wins football games, and we feel like it’s a team that helps every young man get to this place, so we also want to acknowledge that team, which are their families,” head coach Victor Santa Cruz said. “It’s a chance for them to honor where they have come from and who they represent. This is a big family and we recognize those families that are a part of us.”
Senior linebacker Ethan Danielson also appreciates the new feature and said it will be good for the seniors to be able to take home a personalized jersey when they leave APU.
“It’s also fun,” Danielson said. “The people who come to the games see who you are, and it adds a personal aspect.”
As the names on the back return some of the rich tradition of APU football, the uniforms are now more varied than ever before, moving away from the traditional all black uniforms with brick helmets.
The Cougs will now have 18 different uniform combinations that they will have to choose from each week. They will be able to choose from black, brick or white colored helmets, along with black or white pants, to go with the black or white tops and black or white socks.
With college football teams recently trending multiple uniform combinations, it is now something that is a part of the game and also helps represent the university.
“Athletics is a window dressing for what your university stands for, and our university stands for God-honoring excellence, diversity and a rare and distinguished education,” Santa Cruz said. “When we have the different uniform combinations, it stands out when we’re talking to recruits that there is something real different here.”
The task of choosing which of the 18 combos will be worn each week falls on the shoulders of Assistant Athletics Director Jackson Stava.
“I talk to the players, get a feel for what they want to do, take history into account and try to mix in all the helmets,” Stava said. “There is no real rhyme or reason to it. We’re just trying to look good when we go out there.”
The new uniforms have created a lot of excitement throughout the football program and they reflect the direction that they’re going in.
“The sky is the limit here,” Santa Cruz said. “We’re not putting any boundaries on ourselves and we’ll see how this manifests itself.”
Soon, Stava’s power of deciding the uniforms will be placed upon the students. The Zu will organize an event in early November for students to be able to decide the uniform combination.