The Daily Illini

Team honors alumni with new jerseys

By Jared Farmer, Staff Writer

Every team has a way of honoring its history and former players. For the Illini club hockey team, this means wearing history on its sleeves.

The Illini usually come out with a new jersey every one to two seasons. This past weekend, in its trouncing of Michigan State, Illinois debuted a new third alternate uniform designed by head coach Nick Fabbrini. The jersey resembles the team’s current home model, but it is also covered with the names of all of the team’s alumni.

“It’s a pretty special thing to represent everybody who’s come before us here,” Fabbrini said. “I think it’s a cool tribute, and I think they look great.”

While the jerseys were made with the intention of honoring the Illini, the new look serves to highlight the importance of history. Receiving ample attention after a successful campaign last season, commotion continues to stir around a possible Division I program being implemented at the University for the club hockey team. The jerseys also aim to generate more attention for the team.

“I feel like (they’ll boost our recognition) once people start seeing them. We wore them this past weekend,  and a lot of the people that saw them that we’ve talked to loved them,” said senior defenseman Mike Turek. “As we play more games and get more exposure on campus this year, I think more people will be drawn to them.”

This is the first time in recent history that the Illini have added an alternate jersey. The hope for the players is that when the former alumni are visiting home, they will get the opportunity to see themselves represented and be reminded of their time in the program.

 “They love it. I’ve got some of my best friends that have played here and graduated, and they think it’s awesome that they see us out here skating around with their name on our jerseys,” Turek said. “They were some of the guys who helped this team become what it is, so they definitely appreciate being recognized on the jerseys.”

The alumni continue to remain connected with the team.

Older former players come into contact with the team all the time, and younger alumni continue to stick around to connect with their former teammates. Even if an alumnus and player have never met, the team environment has always allowed the men to bond with their former members, either about hockey itself or life on campus.

“Legacy is the biggest part of it,” Turek said. “Seeing all the alums, whether they just graduated or were playing in the ’70s, and just hearing the way they still talk about the program and remember their times here, it’s definitely something we want to be a part of. We definitely want people in the program to look back 15 years from now and know that we gave it our all and paved the way for the next group.”

With a season that will be reliant on some new faces, Fabbrini said that wearing the new jerseys will give his players a higher purpose as well.

“I would say it’s always cool to have something different and unique like that, and that’s definitely something that had us extra pumped up on opening night,” Fabbrini said. “I don’t know if it necessarily motivated the guys to play differently, but it’s something that you’re aware of when you’re wearing it. It’s not just another jersey. It’s truly something special.”

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