More Than a Jersey!

Jersey4Sublimation technology allows jersey makers the freedom to create just about any look on a jersey these days. The trend seems to be big, bold and sometimes downright gaudy. US Elite Director, Mark Helsel, wanted to use sublimation to create a highly recognizable new look for his younger teams, too. But, it was the brainstorm idea of Jay Mathieu that took the organization’s new patriotic jersey to a whole new level.  “Everyone loves the look of our new white jerseys. They are unique, but still classy. They came out great. But, Jay came to me with an idea that I adopted immediately. He said, “let’s assign a letter to the stars on the side of the jersey to remind our players that they are playing for something much bigger than themselves. It still gives me chills to think about how important Jay’s suggestion has already become to our organization”.

The new jersey has three stars down each side. Each star has a letter inside that stands for something.

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 1.36.49 PMG stands for God, said Helsel. We’re not afraid to proclaim that, as an organization, we believe in a higher power and that God has a perfect plan for our lives.

C stands for Country. We live in the greatest country in the world. We’re proud of that and we want our players to understand that we paid a steep price for our freedom. We definitely have an appreciation for the military weaved into our organization.

F stands for Family. Our families support our dreams to play baseball.

O stands for Organization. The US Elite organization is one big family. We’re all in this together. We are proud of the standards of the organization.

T stands for Teammates. Each time we play we know that our teammates are counting on us. We have each other’s backs. Our teammates are like our fraternity brothers.

P stands for Personal. Each of us have people or things in our lives that motivate and inspire us. The P can be for whatever we want it to be”.

Jersey3Helsel says he is disturbed by a trend he sees in travel baseball and wants to do something about it. “I see a lot of entitlement. I see a lot of people placing too much emphasis on all the wrong things. Kids expect parents to carry their bags, buy them lots of “things”, take them everywhere they want to go. It’s out of control. I see parents and coaches focusing way too much on results and winning at early ages. I see coaches who don’t respect the game, their players or their opponents. It’s a shame because they set such a poor example for these young kids. It seems like a lot of people have forgotten why we play this game. I want our organization to be different and I believe we are”.

Jersey1Helsel tested his theory this past weekend when his 12U team opened their season at the Ripken complex in Aberdeen Maryland. “It’s was the perfect place to debut our new jerseys. I had never been to the Ripken complex so it was great for me to see how much they emphasize the same ideals we do. I gave a talk to our players before we began the tournament about what it means to wear this jersey. I want them to learn to play for someone, or something, bigger than themselves. It’s an “other centered” approach, versus a “self centered” approach. So, throughout the weekend, I would ask our players, “who are you playing for today? The cool thing was, these 12 year olds all had an answer. They were playing for something bigger than themselves. We had a great tournament regarding winning and losing (US Elite made it to the finals), but I watched our 12U players develop a bigger vision this weekend. That was priceless”.