Jays switch to Baltimore-based Under Armour

By GREGORY MELICK | September 21, 2017

Director of Athletics Alanna Shanahan announced on August 28 that the school agreed to a multi-year deal with the Baltimore-based company Under Armour.

The company replaced Nike as the official outfitter for Hopkins athletics.

Under Armour has recently had similar deals with six other Maryland-based schools — Towson University; Loyola University; Howard University; University of Maryland, College Park; University of Maryland, Baltimore County; and the United States Naval Academy.

The company now adds the Blue Jays to the list of Charm City schools.

The company has been looking to build a base in Baltimore, and adding Hopkins to its network of schools is another brick in their growing foundation.

At the beginning of September, Under Armour announced its “We Will” campaign, aimed at aiding the city of Baltimore through philanthropy and volunteering. It is especially focused on assisting the community through sports.

The schools in the Baltimore area that have deals with Under Armour will be assisting in this effort.

Shanahan sees this campaign as part of other University efforts in increasing ties to the community.

“Under Armour presented a number of unique opportunities, including a shared interest in investment and commitment to the city of Baltimore,” Shanahan said.

Shanahan sees the proximity between Hopkins and the Under Armour headquarters in Baltimore as a benefit to the partnership.

She points out that students will have access to internships, part-time and permanent jobs and special events on the Under Armour campus.

These close connections were lacking when Hopkins worked with companies like Nike, which is based in Oregon.

An additional reason for the switch was the pre-existing relationship between the Baltimore-based sportswear company and the University.

On May 8, 2014, Under Armour made its largest donation to date to the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center to support breast cancer research, breast health and to the Skip Viragh Outpatient Building, which is slated to open in the spring of 2018.

Hopkins Medicine has also had a relationship with Under Armour in the past, as the two worked together on Under Armour’s health and fitness applications.

The collaboration was announced at the beginning of the year with the goal of helping individuals lead more healthy lifestyles, with professional advice from the experts at Hopkins.

Shanahan pointed out one issue with transitioning to Under Armour.

“The timing of the transition was a hardship for fall sports,” Shanahan said. “The student athletes are also adjusting to size and fit of uniforms, apparel and footwear.”

With a short amount of time between preseason, when fall athletes first arrive on campus, and the official start of the regular season, replacing all of the old Nike gear with new Under Armour apparel was going to be a challenge.

Another obstacle to the transition was that many believe Under Armour to be only a basketball and football brand.

Some athletes questioned whether they would be stuck wearing basketball shoes to play volleyball or football cleats to play soccer.

Nonetheless, Under Armour met all these challenges; Teams found that they were properly equipped with what they needed as their seasons dawned.

So far this season, many Hopkins teams have been performing remarkably well.

All of the University’s fall sports have a combined record of 35-6-1 at this point in the season for a winning percentage of 80 percent.

The University’s athletic success appeals to Under Armour as the company seeks to establish a “winning” brand.

No team has lost more than two games so far, and both men’s soccer and football are undefeated. Additionally, the Hopkins women’s cross country team is currently ranked first in the country, and the men’s team is ranked fifth.

This kind of success has become almost expected from the Blue Jay athletics teams, as the school has finished in the top 10 in the Learfield Directors’ Cup — which recognizes the best all-around athletic schools from each division — for six of the last seven years.

Junior baseball player Tim Kutcher has not received any Under Armour gear yet, as he plays a spring sport.

However, he is still excited about the upcoming transition and looks forward to the new equipment.

“I think in the end it will look nice for everybody to be all Under Armour,” he wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “My only complaint would be that if we are eventually required to be exclusively Under Armour, then we might have to get a lot of our own new equipment.”

Kutcher also saw this partnership as a way for Hopkins to build ties with other Baltimore institutions.

“Under Armour obviously has a huge presence in Baltimore and in Maryland,” he wrote. “The partnership will associate Hopkins more tightly with Baltimore.”

Questions still remain regarding when all the old Nike gear will be phased out and what Under Armour gear student athletes must buy themselves.

Although the transition is not yet complete, the fall sports have shown that the switch has not impeded the performance of Hopkins sports teams.

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